Editor’s note: Due to the sensitivity of the issue(s) discussed in the story you are about to read, the individual’s name has been withheld.
The United States Military has accepted foreigners into its ranks for decades but for one Canadian his journey to become a U.S. Marine has been met with resistance and failure at every turn.
David Francis is a native Canadian living in British Columbia and has dreamed of become a U.S. Marine since he was 5 years old growing up watching films of U.S. Marines charging the shores of Iwo Jima during World War Two. In 2004 he decided he would follow his dreams and try to join the U.S. Marine Corps but his path has been littered with both bureaucratic and physical obstacles.
Since he was a child David has always considered America and Canada to be the same country thought that his calling was in the Marine Corps. His father had lived in America and was on the list to get a green card but decided to surrender it when our marine hopeful was born. The single act of passing on his green card set his son and our Canadian up for the bureaucratic adventure of his lifetime.
This adventure started in 2004 with the announcement to his friends that he was going to join the United States Marine Corps. He first consulted his Canadian career councilor who told him that it would be a simple process of crossing the U.S./Canadian border and applying to become a Marine at the first recruiter station he came across. Of course U.S. Immigration law had something to say about this; to join the any branch of the United States military as a non-citizen he is required to hold a green card, which he did not have. This left him with two options; he could apply for a skilled worker visa, live in the United States for two years then apply for a green card, or he could marry an American for at least a year.
Not wanting to jeopardize his opportunity to enlist, by engaging in a sham marriage to acquire a green card, David decided to start looking for employers in the states that might sponsor his entry into the country. Unfortunately after a year of searching he found that entering the U.S. through the legal route would be much harder than he expected because he lacked skills that would ease his entry into the state under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Citing Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus” inscribed inside of the Statue Liberty, our Canadian said, “The U.S.A seems to have forgotten the creed about the tired masses and the land of opportunity. I can’t fairly criticize the nation for trying to protect itself from criminals entering wholesale, and I understand why the policy is cautious to begin with, but frankly it’s at the point where it’s ridiculously difficult to attempt to emigrate and begin a life down there.”
Two years into his attempt at immigrating into America to become a Marine, David was still searching for a means of legitimate entry with no success. Instead of waiting idly he began working for a company specializing in tactical gear and accessories for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to set money aside so he could go to medical school to become a nurse. He was making good headway until a non-work related injury left him bedridden from winter 2007 to winter of 2008 waiting for emergency surgery to repair his injuries. It seemed that his hopes to become a Marine were being stifled at every turn, but he still hasn’t given up or taken the easy route by joining his native military. His refusal to join his native military isn’t because he lacks respect for soldiers of his own nation. Instead David said “holding a gun all day is cool and all, but it’s just a job. Being a Marine has always been more of a calling to me.”
Although David has recovered from his injuries he still has a minimum of three years of hard work and studying ahead of him. He is aiming to become a nurse so he can take advantage of the TN-1 skilled worker visa program under NAFTA, which would allow him to enter the U.S. and apply for a green card.