As everyone is well aware by now, on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, Donald Trump took a strong lead in the election polls, a lead that would shortly turn into a win. Although Trump won the 2016 presidential election via the electoral college, many Americans, it turns out, would rather leave the country than stay part of Trump’s America.
On Election Day, as Trump began to take a stronger lead in the polls, The Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada website crashed. According to spokesperson Sonia Lesage, “American IP addresses accounted for almost fifty percent of the traffic that caused the site to go down,” compared to typical percentages of American traffic on the site of between 8.8% and 11.6%. According to economist Jed Kolko, in the hours that followed, Americans also searched for Canadian jobs at ten times the typical rate. It has also been reported that there was a 133 percent increase in searches for one-way tickets to Canada on Cheapflights.com. Clearly, there is no denying there was a huge, at least initial, interest in immigration to Canada following Trump’s victory. But will American’s follow through?
Canada may be a clear choice for anyone looking for a quick escape from a Trump-led America, especially for anti-Trump liberals. According to NPR, Canada tends to already be more liberal-minded than America in general, from their gun control policies to their universal healthcare. It is quite possibly a country whose values are the opposite of much of Trump’s conservative agenda, particularly when it comes to immigration. Additionally, Canada is on the same continent, and many parts of the country speak English as the primary language, so it makes sense that Americans would pick it as a first choice destination. Still, despite its appeal, immigrating to Canada may be easier said than done. The immigration process can take more than six months and cost approximately $6,000 CAD. On top of that, Canada’s express entry program is based on a 1,200 point qualification system, which requires a score of at least 500 to qualify. Some things the the system awards points for are age (over forty-five means zero points), marital status, adaptability, language, education, and work experience. Will these barriers deter Americans from moving? Historically speaking, maybe not.
This certainly isn’t the first time Americans have developed a mass interest in fleeing to Canada. A desire to immigrate to our northern neighbor increased dramatically in 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq. It then rose again when George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004. From 2002 to 2008, immigration from the US to Canada doubled from slightly less than 5,000 to over 10,000. This increase, however, pales in comparison to the dramatic movement of Americans to Canada during the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s. 1968, for example, saw the most US combat deaths of the Vietnam War: 16,592. That same year, 20,422 Americans immigrated to Canada, many of them to avoid the draft.
One thing is certain, Canada has been a solid “back-up plan” in the minds of Americans for decades. So, how do Canadians feel about this? Feelings are mixed. NPR referred to Canada as generally “nicer” in terms of hospitality and politeness. Indeed, it’s open-minded stance on immigration may be the opposite of one of the very viewpoints of Trump, that liberal Americans so strongly oppose. On the other hand, as twenty-two-year-old psychology student Isaac of Ontario put it, American immigration to Canada, “Only further reduces the ratio of people against Trump to those who support him.”
It’s impossible to know for sure how many Americans will follow through with their plans to immigrate and become citizens of Canada. If we look to history to guide our predictions, it is safe to speculate that indeed at least some Americans will find refuge from a Trump-led America in our northern neighbor.