Tuesday, July 5, 2016

How It’s Done

While we talk a lot about America being a land of immigrants, Canadians are showing us how it is really done.

From the New York Times:

TORONTO — One frigid day in February, Kerry McLorg drove to an airport hotel here to pick up a family of Syrian refugees. She was cautious by nature, with a job poring over insurance data, but she had never even spoken to the people who were about to move into her basement.

“I don’t know if they even know we exist,” she said.

At the hotel, Abdullah Mohammad’s room phone rang, and an interpreter told him to go downstairs. His children’s only belongings were in pink plastic bags, and the family’s documents lay in a white paper bag printed with a Canadian flag. His sponsors had come, he was told. He had no idea what that meant.

Across Canada, ordinary citizens, distressed by news reports of drowning children and the shunning of desperate migrants, are intervening in one of the world’s most pressing problems. Their country allows them a rare power and responsibility: They can band together in small groups and personally resettle — essentially adopt — a refugee family. In Toronto alone, hockey moms, dog-walking friends, book club members, poker buddies and lawyers have formed circles to take in Syrian families. The Canadian government says sponsors officially number in the thousands, but the groups have many more extended members.

When Ms. McLorg walked into the hotel lobby to meet Mr. Mohammad and his wife, Eman, she had a letter to explain how sponsorship worked: For one year, Ms. McLorg and her group would provide financial and practical support, from subsidizing food and rent to supplying clothes to helping them learn English and find work. She and her partners had already raised more than 40,000 Canadian dollars (about $30,700), selected an apartment, talked to the local school and found a nearby mosque.

Ms. McLorg, the mother of two teenagers, made her way through the crowded lobby, a kind of purgatory for newly arrived Syrians. Another member of the group clutched a welcome sign she had written in Arabic but then realized she could not tell if the words faced up or down. When the Mohammads appeared, Ms. McLorg asked their permission to shake hands and took in the people standing before her, no longer just names on a form. Mr. Mohammad looked older than his 35 years. His wife was unreadable, wearing a flowing niqab that obscured her face except for a narrow slot for her eyes. Their four children, all under 10, wore donated parkas with the tags still on.

Meanwhile, we have governors filing lawsuits against the federal government because they don’t want them in their state.