How Do They Afford It?

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I have come to the conclusion that somewhere, somehow, someone is providing financial backing to the millions of illegal immigrants pouring into America. Nothing else makes sense, especially when we see so many non-citizens living so very far from their native countries.

My family loved to travel, so every couple years we went on a lengthy car trip. We had to carefully save money prior to each of these vacations even though we traveled on-the-cheap, usually going to…oh…homes of favorite relatives! We saved on motel and food costs; saw new places; enjoyed time with aunts, uncles, and cousins; much like the characters in The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, Stephen Gammell.

We did take our grandparents on a trip to Washington, D.C., and we traveled to New Orleans while my uncle was completing his PhD at Tulane University. (Such fun! The five of us squeezed into married student housing with the six of them!) However, other than these two trips, we stayed east of the Mississippi, vacationing wherever my uncle, Dr. Eugene Sneary, was studying or teaching. We could never have afforded to journey further west; certainly not to our southern border. Settling permanently at our final destination? No way; No how!

Vacations involving southern border-crossing distances were not even discussed and, of course, my family would have had neither the financial means, nor the inclination, to pull up stakes and move to another country. Additionally, we all would have found the idea — of sneaking into a nation where we were unwelcome — reprehensible! We would have considered such actions as unforgivable violations of the rightful citizens of the receiving country. My father would never have chosen to show such disrespect for others, and he would never have modeled such awful behavior for us.

In an attempt to gain a better idea of what actually is involved in the process of becoming an illegal immigrant, I decided to create a scenario in which I could try on such a role for size. In so doing, I hoped to come to a conclusion as to the feasibility of such a venture. I decided that, in my thoughts at least, I will violate the rights of my neighboring Canadians. I will sneak across their border; travel about their country with neither passport nor permission; seek work in their country without a work permit. If I succeed in accomplishing all of this, I will begin demanding that Canada change its laws and policies to better accommodate myself, my best interests, and my druthers. (I do wonder if I will have the stomach for even thinking my way through such an odious venture, but I will give it a try.)

Therefore…I believe that I can earn more money in Quebec, than I can in America, and I decide to proceed with my plan. Not only should I be able to make enough money to support myself, but also to cover housing, utilities, transportation, food, plus essential and not-so-essential nonfood items. Additionally, I want to be able to send much money home to my family in America. I hope that, since I do have a BA plus experience in the Education of the Deaf and other areas of special education; and an MA plus years of experience teaching English, reading, language, and spelling, that I should fare better than an unskilled immigrant.

First, I must cross the border and that will be the easiest part. Of course, I have been in Canada innumerable times and know how to cross legally, but this time I need to enter the country illegally. I have the information that I need because television documentaries have been so helpful. They have shown unmanned booths at isolated crossing points. Customs agents have been interviewed as to details. The difficulties (impossibilities) of patrolling long stretches of wilderness and/or miles of coastline with just an agent or two, neither one able to be all places at all times, has been explained.

I easily locate such a place and simply walk around the booth, crossing the border on the side opposite the phone and camera. At those locations there is an honor system. Custom agents expect that all, including illegal crossers, stop and phone a customs station, that is many miles away in order to request permission to cross the border. The system probably works fine for Canadians and Americans, but come on, … for Illegals?

In moments, I am in Canada. I did not even need to pay a courier or guide for navigational or sneaking in services. I am thankful for that, since I would never have the thousands of dollars charged for such services. Remember, I am going illegal because I have no money and am looking for work.

I, of course, have been unable to pay someone to meet me on the Canadian side; to whisk me, unseen, deeper into the countryside, or into the anonymity of a large city. Luckily for me, Canadians are used to American tourists; speak the same language; use easily-converted money that is quite similar to ours. Some people will even accept U.S. dollars in place of Canadian ones.

I cannot take a bus or train since I need to save the little money I do have in order to survive the first few days in Quebec. I will have to hitchhike. Canada is quite a safe country and I have often traveled that way, although that was waaayy back when, and then I was traveling through Israel, Greece, and Europe at the age of 30. Now, nearly double that age, I am sure to find the trip most tiring.

In fact, I am already growing weary, and I have not given much thought to the next problem to be faced — language differences! Quebec is a French speaking country. I did study French in elementary, junior high, high school, and college, but that was loonnngg ago. (Ypsi High, circa 1966, is unimaginable to most, especially my students. I may as well have sailed with the Pilgrims, as far as they are concerned.)

Language will be a problem, and is for Illegals who arrive in America with minimal-to-no-English. I experienced this when I asked a group of Illegals, in their shiny new black VW convertible, to turn down the radio. After my attempts to communicate only created more confusion, I had an idea.

"Illegals?" I asked, with a stern, suspicious expression on my face. They understood that word, as well as my sign language: point-to-radio-with-one-hand; gesture slitting-my-throat-in-frustration with the other. The late-teens/young adults immediately turned off the radio and drove quickly away from my street. Yes, French could be my waterloo, as English was for them. I have no idea how to say "Money Order in US Dollars" in French.

Why is zero-English not the way to recognize Illegals? — to employers who illegally employ them? To landlords? To money order clerks? To banks and credit card companies. Come on! I know that the public schools grow ever weaker; ever more damaging; but…public school students DO learn English, even if they speak it ungrammatically, and rarely use any vocabulary above a third-grade level. If the young dudes I met actually graduated from an American high school, then our schools are many times worse than even the most severe critics have noted. THIS IS AMERICA. THIS IS AN ENGLISH SPEAKING COUNTRY. United — we speak one language while sharing a varied cultural, but a defining political heritage; Divided we now and always will be if this language and cultural cleft is allowed / encouraged / forced to widen.

(Why is Congress so weak; so lax; on the issue of illegal immigration? Are they in need of new taxpayers to fill the gaps left by abortion and ever-growing welfare rolls? Without Illegals, will the proverbial shell game end?)

But, returning to my illegal adventure…I have absolutely no idea how to go about getting an illegal work permit; undeserved drivers license; fake social security card, nor any other kind of government identification. I wonder if Canadian laws are as foolish — I mean, "well-meaning and generous" … as Michigan’s. Here, an unmarried couple with one working full time, receive $279 in food stamps per month. They will get that amount until their earnings rise to $1,500 a month. Yet…another person, fifty-five years old and handicapped; unable to work; receives a small disability check and only $10 a month in food stamps. $10.00!! (Any further questions about why Michigan is in ever-deepening financial trouble?)

I am not sure how to proceed as an Illegal: how to find housing; cash checks; have utilities put in my name. How do I find a job? Do I go around whispering (in lousy French) to anyone who looks like a teacher or principal, "I will teach English and reading for a reasonable price?" Maybe I should locate a sizable farm and offer to hoe potatoes, or tap maple trees, until I can develop some connections or meet someone who knows someone whose neighbor is the brother of someone who used to work in the field of education?

How long will this process take? I am moving to Canada because I have no money! How can I possibly find housing, pay security deposits, get back and forth to work, and still feed myself until I find a job and receive a first paycheck?

This brings me back to the point of my article. I would not have the money to sustain myself during this process, nor, I believe… do the poor, uneducated immigrants! My family could only afford, every couple years at the most, to visit relatives for two weeks. My father was a supervisor for a large natural gas supplier. So…either money actually grows on trees in specific poor countries, or each Illegal immigrant has a sugar daddy in place of, or in addition to, a guardian angel.

I know that I have neither the financial means, nor the skills and knowledge, necessary for success in such an expensive endeavor — i.e., sneaking into another country; finding employment; dealing with a very different culture; managing life using an unfamiliar, or very unpracticed, language. I know that my family would have faced the same but greater problems, had they wanted to move all of us to a foreign land to begin a new life. Such trips are just not within the financial means and skills of most families.

Well, I have not even been able to think my way through the financial, language, and fake identification world of illegal immigrants. Why would a MENSA member be stymied by a complicated challenge that millions of peasants succeed in pulling off? How do Illegals make it over the hurdles and through the woods to jobs, money, money orders, IDs, and … still have the gall to stand up for their "Rights(not!)" in the foreign country of their choice?

Because…somewhere, somehow, someone is bankrolling illegal immigration. If this is difficult to believe, take pen in hand and plan for your family’s migration to a non-English-speaking country. Attend to every detail; anticipate problems that will be encountered; decide how much money your family will need; discover how many "connections" you must have. Be sure to include the $7,000,00 +/— (per person?) you will need for greasing palms and/or paying for the services of an escort at each border.

Oh, wait a minute! I just heard that Illegals are now able to obtain financing in order to purchase homes. Maybe I should not be so hasty. If Canadian law allows similar deep intrusions into the fabric of their society, maybe I will rethink my decision to cancel my trip. I wonder if Canada might offer subsidized mortgages to Illegals? Paid Down Payments? Maybe a HUD, of sorts?

There is no reason that I have to go to Quebec. Job-hunting would be much easier in the English-speaking parts of Canada. I might be able to stay with one of my Canadian friends — just until I have my furniture shipped up from America, of course.

Come to think of it, I have long dreamed of living along the Athabasca River. James Oliver Curwood, my favorite Michigan author, wrote Kazan, and Baree, Son of Kazan. My Grandmother Sneary read these books aloud to my father as the family spent evenings around the kitchen table; around the kerosene lamp. I did the same for my family. The books are unforgettable and the memorable locations certainly do call to me.

Maybe I should call a real estate agent to ask about loan requirements and find out what kinds of homes are available near Lesser Slave Lake. I had better call my best 7th grade girlfriend, too, and have her ready the guest room in anticipation of my arrival. Aren’t I lucky? She lives right in that area!

Linda Schrock Taylor [send her mail] is an educational consultant, homeschooling mom, and public school special ed teacher. She is available for presentations, inservices, and workshops.

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