Surprising Europe is a new series exploring the lives of African immigrants in Europe, giving voice to their successes and challenges.
So far what’s fascinating is exactly how everyday the reports seem to be, featuring thick descriptions of everything from harrowing stories of travel by boat, to the food and car preferences of an exceptionally wealthy entrepreneur.
Also interesting is the fact that the series seems primarily aimed at Africans in Africa. While it aired on Dutch television, and Al Jazeera English, there is a distinct sense that this is a private conversation that you are being permitted to listen in on. And so this is a very different narrative of immigration; one that is much less clear-cut and academic — in the worst sense of that word — instead this series constructs a multiple and messy story. You know something like real life. I’m looking forward to finding the time to watch all of these.
All immigrants in Canada are not created equal. The various routes to migration in Canada already divide new Canadians into refugee, economic, family, undocumented, and entrepreneur classes; each with different requirements for entry and each regulated in different ways once they arrive.
While there is a fair amount of dialogue surrounding certain groups, for example the family reunification and undocumented classes, the growing class of temporary “guest” workers does not frequently makes it into the public discourse.
This class of migration is substantively different from others, in that these migrants are not being invited to stay and become a part of Canada. Instead, we see a very literal move towards treating people, almost entirely, as economic resources.
Temporary foreign workers also often come from very different parts of the world than other classes of immigrants, with guest workers coming from largely from Central America and the Caribbean, areas that are underrepresented in the economic classes.
Some provinces, such as Manitoba, have a means of moving from temporary to permanent status, but the rise in the numbers of these “guests” open a variety of important questions about the possibilities for the cultural, economic and political membership and participation of all residents of Canada.
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In Alabama, church leaders are voicing their strong opposition to Bill HB 56, Alabama’s harsh new immigration law.
This new law surpasses even Arizona, by specifically targeting school children, and mandating, what could become, a climate of constant police surveillance.
The Bishop of the North Alabama United Methodist Conference calls it “the meanest immigrant legislation bill in the nation.”