OP/ED: I want to move to Bermuda, where they have immigration laws! BY LAWRENCE GARVEY




I want to move to Bermuda, buy a taxi and spend the rest of my working life driving tourists to and from the airport and giving tours of the small island paradise. Why not? The island is close to the U.S., it’s got gorgeous weather year round, low crime, beautiful beaches and cool shorts. I’ve never been to Bermuda but everyone that I’ve spoken to who has been there tells me how beautiful it is. So, my plan is to sell everything, buy a small house with a couple of scooters, work as a taxi driver and live happily ever after. It sounds like a great plan except that I can’t do it. Bermuda, a British Territory 600 hundred miles off the East Coast of the United States, has some of the most restrictive immigration laws in the world.  Absent marrying a Bermudian Citizen, it is virtually impossible in Bermuda for a foreign born person to gain citizenship or permanent work and residency status. Americans are more than welcome to visit the island paradise, but leaving is part of the welcome. In other words, there are rules.

Bermuda is not alone. There are many countries in the world where gaining residency status or citizenship is extremely difficult, much more difficult than in the United States. That’s why I am so perplexed with all of the outrage over Donald Trump’s immigration plan. Donald Trump’s two expressed positions on immigration; to build a wall and pay much closer attention to immigrants from countries with high anti American sentiments (mostly Middle Eastern and Muslim Countries), have caused him, and those that support him, to be called racists, bigots, alt right wingers and xenophobic. These labels are a little extreme when all Trump supporters really want is to have a set of rules and to have the rules followed. People want to feel safe and right now, they don’t.

My grandmother emigrated to this country when she was 17 years old.  She came from a war torn country in Europe, where her and her family were discriminated against and persecuted because of their religious and political views. On the eve of my grandmother’s 14th birthday, government agents came into her home, took her older brother out of the home by force and shot him in the head. They left him in a ditch on the side of the road, dead. Notwithstanding this horror, when my grandmother emigrated, she followed the rules. She found someone to sponsor her, secured a job as a domestic servant, obtained a visa and paid for her travel ticket, and America welcomed her.

When wave after wave of European immigrants came to this country in the first half of the 20th century, they followed the rules. When Holocaust survivors emigrated to the US after the horrors of World War II, they followed the rules. When the Vietnamese Boat Refugees came, they followed the rules. Like my grandmother, all of these immigrants came to this country for a better life. They came to escape political and religious persecution, the horrors of war and bleak futures.  Why were our parents and grandparents different from today’s immigrants?  Why, all of a sudden, do the rules not matter?  America is the greatest country on earth, with a long history of welcoming and giving refuge to the persecuted and downtrodden, but the rules matter and that is all that Donald Trump has ever said.

The hysteria surrounding Donald Trump’s immigration stance is just that, hysteria. There is no reasonable basis to conclude, based on the positions taken during the election, that Donald Trump, or his supporters, are xenophobic,  uncompassionate or bigots. Donald Trump’s immigration stances are nowhere near as restrictive as the official immigration policies of many countries of the world. Like so many other issues during this campaign, Donald Trump simply proposed solutions to a problem that many Americans are concerned with and that our current leaders have ignored. The immigration situation in this country is a mess, there is no clear policy and no clear rules. The rules that do exist, are either not followed or not enforced. Donald Trump promised to implement solutions to the immigration crisis in this country. Whether he is successful, only time will tell. Regardless, I still can’t move to Bermuda.


Lawrence Garvey