As I sit down to write about immigrants, I'm reminded of something I tend to forget—I am one. An illegal one, originally.
In 2000, I left my home in Canada and drifted across the border with nothing but a driver's license, a little cash, and a duffle bag of clothes. Ah, the things you could do before 9/11!
My older brother had moved to Portland, Oregon, a few years earlier, so that's where I headed, taking up residence on his futon. Months passed before I decided to do something about the fact that I was in the country without any documentation. Once I did, I found the process relatively easy, largely thanks to the fact that my mother was born in the U.S. There were no lawyers or legal fees. No test to pass. I just filled out a seven-page application and received a social security number a month later.
The cultural transition was even easier. Other than sounding a little funny to my new friends (people still chuckle whenever an "eh" escapes my lips), ...1