American family leaves Wisconsin to settle in Halifax

For the Johnson family, an incident last winter was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Leith and T. Johnson were down the street talking to a neighbor while their two sons, aged 11 and 14, were playing in front of their home in the suburbs of Milwaukee.

When the couple returned, a stranger had trapped their eldest in their garage.

The man, explains the mother, “was calling the police and telling them that a black man was breaking into our house and endangering the neighborhood.”

“It was our son,” exclaims Mrs. Johnson, “We told him,” This is our son, he lives here, “but the man did not let go of the piece.”

Shortly after, the Johnsons left Wisconsin to settle in Nova Scotia.

With their two children, the couple live in Halifax. But they are not sure that Canada will want to keep them.

Temporary residents

The Johnsons have temporary resident status because Leith went back to school. Her family can stay for four years while attending classes at King’s College in Halifax. Upon completion of his studies in 2021, family members must obtain permanent resident status if they want to remain in Canada.

A situation that escalated after the election

The Johnson family’s troubles in the United States began long before Donald Trump was elected president.

Leith Johnson says it’s because his family is “a menagerie of many things”.

“My husband and I are both transgendered. We adopted two boys, one is African-American and our youngest is Latino, “she explains. “We are also Jewish”.

Ms. Johnson claims that she and her husband lost jobs after being transgendered in their workplace.

But they persevered, determined to create a stable environment for their two sons. Liam is now 15 years old, and DJ is 12 years old.

“After the election, the gloves fell,” she says. She has the impression that people are no longer holding back.

“As a parent, all you want is for your children to be safe. It’s hard enough with things like the Internet … To end up in a situation where your physical security is threatened, where you live, it’s really worrisome. ”

Arrived under a Skilled Worker Program

The Johnson family members were able to move to Canada under the Federal Skilled Worker Express Entry system.

The system awards points based on age, language, work experience, level of education, and whether or not a person has family in Canada.

Lee Cohen, an immigration lawyer from Halifax, explains that if a person collects the “winning number of points”, she will be asked to apply for permanent residence. But that does not guarantee that she will receive a positive response.

Many claimants “find themselves in a sort of battle with immigration services,” says Cohen. The applicants are bombarded with requests for additional information or documents.

“At the end of the process, these people are often very surprised to hear that they have been refused without knowing why.”

Complex system and uncertain future

The Johnson is 45, and his wife Leith is 53. This means that under the immigration procedure they followed, they did not get points for their age.

Lee Cohen says there are a number of options available to the family, which could include, for example, arguing that Leith has a university degree from Canada. The residences at the University of Wisconsin, for whom he works remotely. He also teaches at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Mr. Cohen believes that the Canadian immigration system needs to be reformed. He finds it complex and filled with shades that are difficult to understand.

“It’s not hard to imagine why people trying to immigrate are confused between the government’s” welcome to Canada “speech and the reality of a procedure that rejects them. I think all of this needs to be rethought. ”

The lawyer believes that there should be more categories in which to classify newcomers, rather than just one type of permanent resident status. “It’s all or nothing,” he says.

“We feel at home”

The Johnson family has been in Canada for almost a year, and Leith Johnson still can not believe how well his children have adapted to their new environment, especially their youngest son, DJ.

“Our family is like a mix of all that Donald Trump really does not like,” says the 12-year-old boy. “We really like it here.”

Leith Johnson says that whatever happens, his family will not return to the United States. “If we do not get permanent residence in Canada, where do we go next,” she wonders.

“What’s frustrating is that we feel at home,” says Johnson. “Having no place to go after is really difficult, frustrating and stressful.”

“I think when people start recognizing the value of what my wife and I bring, with experience and expertise in different areas that are really appreciated here in Nova Scotia, I think something will happen for us” he hopes.

Kevin Jones is the lead editor for Nova Scotia Today.. Kevin has written for many publications including CBC Vanity Fair and Bleacher Report. Kevin is based here Halifax and covers issues affecting his city. In addition to his severe hockey addiction, Kevin also enjoys woodworking.

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