When governments hinder people’s ability to exchange voluntarily, they hurt both natives and immigrants.
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to live in Los Angeles. Well, maybe not that far back but I’ve wanted to for a very long time.
When I was a child, probably 9 or 10 years old, my father brought home an illegal cable box one day, which came hundreds of new channels. As a kid, I grew up glued to the TV and was always curious on how TV shows were made. I remember seeing the movie Soap with Robert Downey Jr., and being fascinated at the behind the scenes world of the fictional Soap Opera in that movie. Soap introduced me to the jobs and several interesting aspects of filmmaking that I never knew existed before. While it would take a few more years for me to declare my wanting to be a filmmaker to my parents and all my friends, Soap certainly sparked an interest in me.
One of the stations I used to watch every day afterschool was KTLA. I remember that sometimes I would catch a Man on the Street interview and remember being fascinated with Californian life. All the people who lived in LA just seemed so cool and laid back to me. During the winter, KTLA would do some report near the beach and I always wondered how people could live without snow and freezing temperatures. I remember thinking to myself that one day I too would move to Los Angeles and make it my home, someday. After graduating film school in 2005, I went to LA for the first time and fell in love. I swore once again that one day I would make it my home.
I moved to Los Angeles in January 2009 and went to school at Santa Monica College. I spent 2 and a half years living the dream but it wasn’t my first time living outside Canada. I lived in Europe for 3 years previously but I suffered many personal setbacks there. I joined a cult and ended up giving the group a lot of money and time. In fact, an LA-area Human Rights lawyer declared me a victim of Human Trafficking. While in Europe, I lost over 70 pounds in a 9 month period, worked over 30 hours straight a few times and if I was lucky, I would eat just one small meal per day. This was the first time I had ever lived in extreme poverty as I was raised in a middle class household with two working parents.
I went to live in Los Angeles because I had suffered great physical and emotional pain in Europe and wanted to create a new life for myself. Also, there wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t think about living in Los Angeles. At night, I used to sneak onto the only computer with internet and would Google Earth images of the Santa Monica Pier. I would become emotional just thinking about the freedoms other people had; living their lives in peace and happiness as I suffered greatly for nothing. I longed to be free and Los Angeles became my image of hope.
When I had to leave Los Angeles in the summer of 2011, I was devastated. As a film student, I was able to get several amazing internships at big studios in Los Angeles. One was at Sony Pictures in Culver City and another was at Fox Studios in Century City. As a film and TV fan, I couldn’t tell you how happy I was to be fulfilling my dreams. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t find any employer who was willing to sponsor me for a U.S. Work Visa, either Immigrant or Non-Immigrant. I went to the Immigration Coordinator at my college who referred me to several Immigration Lawyers. They all said the same thing, kind of like a chant. They told me to get married and it was devastating to hear because of the impossibility of that happening. I kept telling myself repeated that it didn’t make sense and that there had to be another way.
As a Canadian, you’d think it would be somewhat simple to live and work in the U.S. For example, citizens of Australia and New Zealand benefit from a mutual open border agreement where citizens of each nation can live, work, study and operate a business, visa free. Even before the European Union was founded, citizens of Germany and Denmark enjoyed a similar mutual open border agreement. While it’s true that Canada and America went to war with each other in 1812, Germany and Denmark fought each other 4 times from 1848 to 1945. That’s a total of 4 wars in 97 years.
So I just kept asking myself, why is it so hard for Canadians to obtain Work Visas for the U.S.? I’m an educated, hard working, creative person, who’s literate, has savings and has a desire to move and contribute to American society. One lawyer told me that no one cares how much you want to live in America, if there’s no will, there’s no way. This right there is exactly what’s wrong with U.S. Immigration. There’s no desire for reform or reconstruction at the political level. While many progressives and libertarians are fighting for comprehensive Immigration Reform in order to create a system where unskilled workers can enter and beginning a pathway to citizenship. This is something that doesn’t exist right now in America. However, it would benefit America greatly and would see less illegal immigration from south of the border. I do applaud the efforts of all the activists who are fighting to change the system but Washington has a habit of listening to the sounds of the money being printed and not to common sense, logic or reason.
I’ve been in Canada for over 3 years and have been contacting lawyers in order to get a visa. But now I’m getting frustrated and am crossing America off my list and ending my dream. Without serious fixing the Immigration system, America’s hole is going to get deeper and she has no one to blame but herself.
If history tell us anything it’s that no matter how tall you build a wall, people will always find a way around it. If there’s a will, you better believe that someone there will always a way.