“I’m moving to Denmark,” said my beloved bartender Doug as he poured us another round. The map on the TV behind him was getting redder and redder. “Yeah I guess I should locate my passport,” said Mary. Yesterday, my Dad told me he had taken an online quiz about which country he should move to if Trump won. “The results said Canada,” he told me, “but I was hoping for Costa Rica.”
I laughed and told him he the quiz probably wasn’t thorough enough. “Like, did they even ask ‘is your wife obsessed with birds?” If they had, I’m sure you would have gotten Costa Rica. You should just move there anyway.” He said he seriously might. Which is good. I want my parents to be happy and I honestly think they would love it there.
This isn’t the first time I have heard people threaten to move to other countries. I remember it coming up a lot in 2000 and 2004 among my friends’ parents and and my parents’ friends. I personally don’t know of anyone who has actually left for political reasons but maybe there are some folks who did.
Tonight, as I was driving home, feeling despondent, I pictured this mass migration made up of me and my family and all of our liberal friends and their families as well as the other groups like us. I pictured everyone’s Facebook posts about how happy we would be in our new homes. “Here we are in the garden. Here we are in the local village. Here we are sampling local cuisine…”
But then it occurred to me. What on Earth makes us think these countries would take us in? I mean, why should they? We just elected a President whose entire platform consisted of keeping “others” out. A wall, and mass deportations for our southern Neighbors. A ban on Muslims. Limiting the rights of minority citizens. Limiting the rights of women.
Ok Trump’s plans are awful, but it’s not like our historical track record is very good either. We have had quotas and caps on immigrants from certain countries since the beginning. We have had (and currently have) racist policies. Look up how and when we let in Jewish refugees during World War 2, for example. While I was happy to know we were accepting Syrian refugees, 10,000 is just a drop in the bucket. Seeking asylum (especially coming from Mexico) is very difficult and could involve years of waiting in an unsafe situation.
So, what are we going to say when we ask other countries to take us in? Are we facing war? Genocide? Starvation? Aggressive, repressive dictatorship? No. We just accidentally elected an unhinged, unqualified reality TV star to the highest political office. Someone who bragged about sexual assault while miked and then didn’t apologize for it. Someone who… ugh I can’t go on.
I don’t blame anyone who wants to move right now. Things may not be safe for everyone in this country, and what’s happening in the U.S. is also making the rest of the world more dangerous as well. I am just struck by what a privilege it is to have a passport, a U.S. passport especially, and the ability to even imagine relocating without issue. I woke up this morning to a very kind note from my friend in Mexico, telling me I’m always welcome. I am not sure what to say in response.