What Should We Do Now?
November 8, 2016 11:58 PM   Subscribe

We are married and own a small business in LA. My husband is a POC and technically Muslim, although we both lean towards Buddhism. I am White. We have a son. We are not religious or political. It's apparent our comfy West Hollywood bubble is not going to protect us the way we have previously enjoyed. His family is mostly in Dubai, some in Alexandria, Egypt. My roots are in NYC and NZ. We're both fluent in French. He also speaks Spanish. Our family business is very locality specific, if we move we'll not have an easy transition business-wise. Should we stay in this Los Angeles or make plans to emigrate? Please advise.
posted by jbenben to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You should stay. If you consider yourselves to be Americans, you should stay. Because there are lots and lots of people who need you to stay and be a part of a movement to protect them and to make sure that things don't get too bad for them. The fact that you have the financial means and the international ties to ask this question tells me that you are less vulnerable than some (although much more vulnerable than others, and I'm sad for that, sad that that's even a conversation we have to have). And I think that means that you stay, that all of us who have the choice to stay should stay, so that we don't abandon other people who may desperately need us to be here to help them.
posted by decathecting at 12:02 AM on November 9, 2016 [19 favorites]

Use your words and your intellect and your resources and make this place better.
posted by amtho at 12:11 AM on November 9, 2016 [7 favorites]

I'm in California also and the one solace I have is that we're an overwhelmingly blue state. I feel somewhat safe on that level, at least.

I totally understand what you're feeling and I've been asking myself the same kinds of questions. But don't go. We need people like you to stay. We need good people more than ever.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 12:12 AM on November 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Please stay and contribute to the activism that will reverse the carnage of this evening. Your family is diverse and well positioned, if you have a profitable business in your current area, and can afford to live in West Hollywood.

If it would assuage your anxiety, obtain dual citizenships.

But stay. We need you.

I'd like to second what amtho said.
posted by zdravo at 12:27 AM on November 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

We are having the same thoughts out in the SGV.

Please stay. Please stay with us, and fight with us to ensure our country's leaders make decisions that reflect our values.
posted by samthemander at 12:50 AM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't live in the US (and am not a citizen), so I can't claim to understand exactly how you feel. But I think you should stay. Your country needs good, smart, empathetic people and from your posting history I know you are such a person.

Obtain any other passports you can, they are a good back up. But other countries aren't perfect either and we need the US to pull things together for everyone's sake.

Be safe.
posted by kitten magic at 1:00 AM on November 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

I'm leaving. I have citizenship in Europe in two countries and I'll be looking for jobs soon. I need good health care and I need a stable economy and I'll be voting with my feet. But I have citizenship in two stable liberal countries, a work history in one, residency in the other, lots of family and friends and EU work rights.

If I were in CA I'd likely stay as CA is basically it's own country but I'm not quite in CA and everyone in my industry will be flocking there, it started a few months ago just in case. So unlikely I'll get as good a job as I have now. It's also unlikely my good job will stay good despite my best efforts. I wouldn't move to Dubai or Egypt. I'd consider NZ but probably not with a non-portable job. So for your situation I'd stay but diversify my income stream in anticipation of what may come. NZ is probably your best bet but it's considerably more conservative than CA by any metric. If I were settled in CA I'd stay. CA can weather most storms.
posted by fshgrl at 1:01 AM on November 9, 2016 [7 favorites]

It's apparent our comfy West Hollywood bubble is not going to protect us the way we have previously enjoyed

How is it apparent?

I suspect you're angry about the US elections results, but I'm not sure what exactly you're running away from? Accepting democracy means acknowledging, actually embracing, the fact that the results of an election do not necessarily reflect your own choice.

But more to the point of your question, do you have any serious plan to relocate elsewhere? Do you have the means to support yourselves while either finding a job or getting a new business running? Do you even have the right to live and work in one of the countries (UAE, Egypt, New Zeland, etc) you mentioned? Do you know what it's like to be a woman in the Middle East?

I think once you realise how difficult it is to emigrate and uproot your family, you'll think twice about ditching your current life.
posted by Kwadeng at 2:07 AM on November 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

So to summarize, you have a racially/religiously/culturally mixed marriage and live in the most inclusive community in the most inclusive state in one of the most inclusive countries the world has ever seen. You work for yourselves in an economy where approximately 1/4 of the workforce can not find work and another 1/4 is on the brink of being laid off. The policies and actions of the current president are leading to the breakdown of race relations, the justice system, and an exponential decay of the world economy. Now that there is a newly elected President that may make economic and social improvements, you want to shut down your location dependent business and relocate to the other side of the planet to one of the least inclusive parts of the work with a higher degree of economic and political instability where you have less opportunities for employment, presumably because comments from said President-Elect about unlawful immigrants have been distorted by the media.

Unless you or your husband are here illegally or have past terrorist activity, I would stay put. It sounds like you are good people and have a good thing going. For what it is worth, I am legal immigrant to the US, a recent citizen, and did not vote for the orange man. I work with people from around the world and it really is bad out there on the job front. Recent top graduates in my area are having trouble finding unpaid intern jobs. Every oil producing country is struggling and the rest are feeling the pinch. New Zealand is a wonderful country, but I am not sure what employment you will find there unless your family ties can help you.

Wake up tomorrow, hug your husband, hug your son, and know you are among the lucky ones in the world. Then stop watching US news sources.
posted by Short End Of A Wishbone at 2:20 AM on November 9, 2016 [8 favorites]

As fshgrl say, CA is something like the 6th largest economy in the world, so I suspect it is unlikely much will change for those who live there, particularly given that it is a blue state. It can hold its own.

In any event, I wouldn't recommend rushing into any decisions. Having been through the similar Brexit trauma in the UK recently, I can tell you that, after the initial panic and disbelief, things will calm down over the coming days and weeks and the outlook won't be quite so bad. You can then make any decisions with a more rational/peaceful frame of mind.

Also, on preview, as Short End Of A Wishbone says, I would strongly recommend avoiding all news sources over the next few days (and possibly weeks). The news will contain nothing but misinformation, scare stories and supposition for a while to come. You will lose nothing (you will pick up anything important by social osmosis) and it will do wonders for your sanity.
posted by oclipa at 2:26 AM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

One of the benefits of living in North America is there was a kind of stability that wasn't experienced anywhere else in the world. Unlike the other posters, I've lived through changes in government that led to a sudden and unexpected escalation in violence and civil war. This was in a country that was peaceful and where my family and neighbours watched in disbelief as their lives went from middle class and pleasant to being brutalized. I was lucky in that I had family that whisked me away.

My advice to you is to stay put as long as you feel ok, but make a plan to move elsewhere. Believe foreign media over your own. And start to shift your business so it can be applicable elsewhere. Even something local like a restaurant can be franchised.

My heart is aching for you.
posted by A hidden well at 4:21 AM on November 9, 2016 [17 favorites]

I'm lucky enough to have Australian citizenship though feel much like you do about the current situation. My husband & I are making plans to get everything in order for a quick departure if needed but waiting & seeing how things go. Basically we are working on making our jobs as portable as possible over the next year, saving our asses off & having all our research done for an international move re things like Visas, transportation etc.

I would really suggest that you look at doing the same thing if only for the piece of mind having a back up plan can bring. Pack your parachute as it were. Be as ready to go as you can be. Have plans in place, just because you've planned something doesn't mean you have to do it, but you have it there if you need it.
posted by wwax at 7:58 AM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Follow up question: Will California allow Muslims or others from "undesirable" countries to be incarcerated or tracked? What would that look like in 2016? I assume something like the internment camps for Japanese Americans in WWII isn't going to happen, and instead there might be tracking or seizure of assets? Would California be able to protect its citizens against shenanigans if there was an executive order or something similar from the federal government? Would California resist on behalf of its citizens?

I'm aware of how large the economy in CA is and mostly agree with Short End of a Wishbone that we're probably fine, but I also lived about 12 blocks from that thing with the airplanes and buildings, so I'm aware things can change very quickly. Who are the boogeymen of this group coming into power? Are we even on their list??

If there is thoughtful analysis on these questions as things unfold post-election, please feel free to PM me with links as well as post here for the greater community to read. Thanks to all!
posted by jbenben at 9:01 AM on November 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I am feeling the same way as you jbenben. I got my US citizenship in time to vote for BO in 2008. I cannot imagine that in 8 short years, I have to consider plans for exiting if need be.

I was considering getting my OCI card from India just so I do not have to get visa to go to India, but now I have to get that simply as a backup.

About your situation, middle-east may not be the best place for the next 4 years. If you have a NZ passport, work on getting the paperwork in order for your husband and son to be able to go there. If nothing else, use the NZ papers to have a visa to get to Canada or Mexico in hand. Just some kind of plans for exiting if need be.

I don't think you have to worry about internment camps and the like in this day and age. The worry will be cybertracking and the emboldenment of law enforcement to basically get away with a lot.

I appreciate, just like you I am sure, when people tell us we are overreacting and we should stay and fight. I get that, and I am going to look into that. But in these times, we should consider all options.

Be safe and be vigilant.
posted by indianbadger1 at 12:50 PM on November 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

I would make plans to keep my options as open as possible. If all three of you do not have valid passports currently, get them before Trump is inaugurated. Try to secure a few thousand dollars cash in case of a worst case scenario where bank accounts and credit cards might get locked down.

Be extra nice to everyone you deal with in case you need them to look the other way while you flee the country and they shrug and say "I dunno." to the authorities.

Take any other precautions you can think of that make it possible for you to leave without making necessary for you to leave. You do not want to cut yourself off from anything. Widen your options as much as possible. Give yourself all the latitude you can figure out how to arrange.

posted by Michele in California at 2:35 PM on November 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think flight is the wrong way to deal with unpalatable options. The pendulum always swings back in politics, and Trump is going to overreach, and to bring America back to the point you want it to be, it's going to require opposition and engagement and commitment to change, so that two years from now, a wave midterm election dismantles the Republican majority on Congress, and then four years from now, we vote President Trump (feels weird saying it) out of office. I think you should stay.
posted by Happydaz at 3:23 PM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I also live in West Hollywood. Here's an Official Statement from City of West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister. Hope this eases some of your anxieties.
posted by lola at 11:13 AM on November 11, 2016

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