Black people or people of African descent living in the United States should consider seeking asylum in other countries. That’s what I did. On 23 September, I applied for asylum in Canada. We were brought to America as slaves, and the country hasn’t changed its ways at all since then.
Throughout my life, police departments have harassed me and made me fear for my life – this is something many other people of color will have experienced too.
If you’re black in the US you will always have to go through persecution and discrimination at some point in your life. Black Americans are , regularly and as white Americans and face . All these forms of discrimination are racist – yet they continue nonetheless.
Applying for asylum has been in the back of my mind for a long time, especially since I started reflecting on my experiences in the United States of America and educating myself on black history.
I have been studying law for much time on my own, so it didn’t take very long for me to inform myself about the process of applying for asylum. The internet has become very powerful, and everything that I needed was just a click away.
The resources that I used included the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Handbook and the Refugee and Immigration Protection Act of Canada.
In my dossier, in which I built a case for my application, I included 18 exhibits describing the conditions of my country from a human rights perspective. All of the exhibits deal with racial disparities and police brutality and come from credible sources, such as the United Nations.
One exhibit, for example, is an from PBS Newshour about a scathing United Nations report analyzing the current state of racial justice in the United States and which cited the fatal shooting of the unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. “Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life” said a UN representative about their findings.
On the day I left the United States for what I hoped would be the last time, I took a combination of trains and buses from Salem, Oregon, until I reached the Canadian border. I passed through customs and border patrol with a valid United States passport, and they allowed me to come into the country.
In Vancouver, at the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, I handed in my asylum application, which is now under consideration. I had my first a hearing at the immigration court on 23 October 2015. The judge didn’t give me any specific time or day that he would make his decision. But, given the legal package I put together, I think he is going to have a hard time just flat out rejecting my asylum claim.
As I wait, I am living in Vancouver BC and receiving Canada’s social assistance. I would have to move to a less expensive city if I wanted to live on my own. I would prefer working for a living but immigration won’t issue me a work permit.
If I receive a negative decision of my asylum application, I’m already 10 moves ahead as far as my appeal process goes. I have a plan, and I’m going to follow it. The United States has always been a terrible country to live in. The United States government is always murdering, undermining and underestimating its black citizens – and I have no intention of going back.
America is not the best country in the world – nor was it ever in the past. The only people who can claim it is are individuals who don’t understand the true meaning of life, love and happiness.
- This article was amended on 12 November 2015 to reflect the fact that Kyle Lydell Canty had his first asylum hearing on 23 October 2015, not 24 September.