Ted, a U2 Econ and Management major, took an hour out of his busy day to talk to us about his incredible experience in activism work regarding immigration. Since 2017, Ted is involved in the “End White Discrimination at the Border” campaign at McGall, which has raised hundreds of dollars through samosa sales and pub crawl tickets. As a white student who immigrated from the United States two years ago, Ted explained in which ways the hardships of immigration changed his perspective on life. “I really wasn’t sure I was gonna make it ya know. Asking for a student permit, that long online form, it was a lot,” he said, his voice cracking.
“I really believe that immigration is all about contributing to a country ya know. I came here to graduate and then stay. I’m one of those immigrants, I just want to be a good citizen, pay my taxes, go vote, get a good job, nothing much ya know.”
When asked about how he views immigration from Latin America, Ted stressed the importance of cultural integration and shared that “he didn’t feel very comfortable with those people coming.” “It’s not racist or anything, it’s just like, how are they gonna blend in if they don’t speak our language, I just don’t know, man.” Ted did not seem aware that English is not the official language of the United States, and instead went on sharing with us the work he put into learning French before coming here. “I really worked for it ya know, I can now say bonjour and merci without an accent.”
Ted, who knows how special his experience was, is committed to sharing it with the rest of campus. When asked how he felt about migrants seeking asylum versus economic migrants, Ted admitted not knowing the difference; “But… if you are not an economic migrant, does that mean you won’t ever have a job? Because ya know, that’s just dangerous for the Canadian economy, like objectively.”
He continued by highlighting the ways in which immigration can lead to tragic consequences. “It’s just like, I’m not a CAQ supporter, but I get it, like if you don’t have a college degree, it’s just like, what are you bringing to Canada as an individual, ya know.” This perspective, which Ted pointed out is shared by most of his friends, is far from being unsupported. Ted gave us a crash course in economics during the interview to clarify what he meant: “After taking ECON 209 last semester I just really understand what neoliberalism and capitalism mean to me on, like, a personal level.” Ted couldn’t go into many details about the specific implications of immigration for the economy but referred us to his favourite book by Milton Friedman, which he insisted is “a masterpiece.”
Ted credits his family for the strong meritocratic values they passed onto him. Getting worked up, he added: “It’s like, earn ya spot here like everyone else! Like my grandpa used to say, ya don’t get nothing for free in life.” (Unfortunately, when asked if this included his white privilege, Ted recalled a board meeting at the Desautels faculty and had to leave).