In the early 1970’s, my family had made their second house move to a larger home and into a new area of Miami. By the time we began school, in the early 1970’s, the Mariel Boat Lift had begun.
Thousands of Cubans were fleeing the island of Cuba for a better life in the United States. They came by boat, they came by inner tubes, they came by any means that would carry them across the ninety miles between Havana and Key West.
Florida really had no other choice. People were coming and they needed assistance. Many were deported back to the island in the Wet Foot Dry Foot laws took hold.
Many, Many Cubans came and settled into Miami, building a truly remarkable community that rose over my lifetime.
In school there were two paths to education.
- The White – American English Path and
- The Bi-lingual Spanish English Path
My brother took the White path, where I took the latter.
I was educated in English AND Spanish for the whole of my educational career. I learned the second language and welcomed it into my life. Decades later, it would be the Cuban community that came to my rescue when I was so very sick and was going to die.
They held me up and cared for me.
I feel like I welcomed them as a child, and as an adult, they welcomed me.
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Today … In Quebec, and across Canada, migrants, and immigrants and asylum seekers, are crossing our borders by any means possible. And last Winter we watched, devastatingly, what happened to men, women and children who suffered in the biting cold of the dead of Winter, crossing the border North, to get away from Donald Trump and his presidency.
There are thousands of immigrants sitting in tents on the New York – Quebec border crossing that is just a dirt road in the middle of no where.
There are those, protesters that are against allowing immigrants over the border, seeming to just allowing them access to Canada, without the red tape.
That is NOT the case.
But I have said that if this trend continues, and Summer turns into Fall and then Fall turns into Winter, crossing the border, once again, is going to become deadly dangerous.
And we, as citizens need to step up and do what we have to do to make sure everyone finds a home, and fast.
Our Prime Minster has spoken on the issue and guarantees immigrants entry, but with the legal and moral conditions that are in place. There will be no easy ride into citizenship. Everyone will be processed legally and by the book.
I waited almost a year for my birthright, and it was a fluke that it took the short course it did, because of a kind immigration official in Sydney Nova Scotia.
Just the same, Canada is a country that is SAFE, FREE and STABLE.
The rumor that it will be a cakewalk and easy to get over the border and get citizenship is NOT TRUE. Haitians and anyone else crossing the border, will be met by immigration authorities and will be processed legally and respectfully.
We have not heard about Canada repatriating people back over the border nor deporting them just the same. We will do what we can, but there is NO guarantee that your application will be accepted and that citizenship IS a guarantee.
Acceptance and Citizenship are NOT guaranteed.
You will be processed like any one else asking for admittance into Canada.
The United States has fallen on hard times with the election of Donald Trump and millions of people are on the receiving end of his threats.
What can we do ? We can do what we can to help our fellows find homes, schools for their children and jobs for their parents.
We need to let go our Nationalism and our demonstrations against those now crossing the border.
We need to step up and be charitable and kind and loving.
It’s a really good thing that Haitians and others speak variations of Creole, French and African languages. Because French is not at odds with either. We have vibrant communities from ALL OVER the world here.
And we can accommodate everyone, in time, as we are able.
We need to be understanding and patient.
But we also need to tell the Haitian Communities South of the border, that crossing the border carries with it NO GUARANTEES of CITIZENSHIP or IMMIGRANT STATUS.
These words need to be shared.
Canada will welcome you, but it won’t be the easy road you believe it will be if you arrive on our doorstep. You will take the same path everyone else takes.
And come Fall and the beginning of Winter, the odds of survival get smaller, because I would horror a guess what it is going to look like here in Quebec, in the DEAD of WINTER, like we saw on the Prairies last Winter in Manitoba and Alberta.
You cross at your own peril as the seasons change.
Be very careful with your decisions.
We are Canadian. And everyone deserves to live safely, freely and without fear.
Just know if you come here, you will wait like everyone else.