On election night in the U.S. in 2016, Jerry Flores had offers from three universities in front of him.
With Donald Trump as the new president, Flores, a child of Mexican immigrants who grew up in Pasadena, Calif., could not bear listening to Trump put down his parents' homeland for the next four years as he pushed to build a wall with Mexico. So Flores opted to take a job north of the border.
The one-time high school dropout, who went on to earn a PhD from University of California, Santa Barbara, is now an assistant professor of sociology at University of Toronto Mississauga, and his story was featured recently in Toronto Life and the Toronto Star.
“I am surprised how little I miss my homeland, its bigoted discourse and mass shootings,” he writes in the Toronto Star. “I know I should have stayed to fight. But I left. I believe that if Canada opened its doors for 100,000 American immigrants, the quota would be filled in a day.”
He says that at U of T, which like other Canadian universities saw a spike in numbers of international students applying and accepting offers after Trump's election win, he has encountered an institution that embraces diversity and research.
“I knew exactly what would happen when Donald Trump got elected,” he says in Toronto Life. “Racists are lazy; they don’t reinvent the wheel. It’s always the same dynamic. I was dreading the day when I was going to have to talk to my sons about how to deescalate situations with the police. I know that stuff happens in Canada, but it’s not as bad.”
He now lives in Mississauga, and his wife and children are settling into life in Canada.
“Living in the U.S., I felt like a second-class citizen for most of my life, but I feel like I can be a man in Toronto,” he says in Toronto Life. “I blend in. I’m not the only person who looks like me all the time.”