When Jennifer Jasey launched Trump Dodgers—a real estate listings website that includes contact info for an immigration and real estate lawyer, aimed at Americans interested in moving to or buying real estate in Canada—last summer, it was mostly meant as a joke: Jasey, like most other people, didn’t think Trump would actually win the presidency. Since inauguration day, the Toronto-based real estate agent says the site, which she hoped might earn her a little bit of buzz, has turned into valuable (and popular) service. She tells Toronto Life about who wants to come to Canada, and why Trump’s latest executive order has her busier than ever.
When did you first get the idea for a real estate website devoted to Trump Dodgers?
In spring 2016, I was chatting with my friend Nelson Garcia, who is a real estate lawyer. We came up with the idea and he really pushed me to do it, so I had a logo done by a graphic designer and had t-shirts made. It started as a marketing gimmick. Before Trump was the Republican nominee, nobody thought he’d become the president. Even after he was the nominee, it really didn’t seem possible. And then he won.
And all of a sudden it was more than just a marketing gimmick?
When he won, it was mayhem—I was getting calls non-stop. It quieted down for a bit leading up to the inauguration. There was a lot of “let’s wait and see what happens,” but I think after the first week, people are really frightened.
And Canada’s looking better by the second.
Absolutely. I’m putting a lot more time into the website, and I have an immigration lawyer and a real estate lawyer working with me.
Can you give us a sense of the traffic you’re getting?
I would say I’m getting about 10 inquiries every day. People want advice on who they need to get in touch with, and they want to see MLS listings.
Is there a typical sort of prospective client that you’re hearing from?
A lot of the people contacting me are from Chicago and New York, plus people in L.A. who would be more likely to move up to Vancouver. A lot of professionals, quite well educated. Moving to Canada is an easier process if you are a skilled professional. A lot of people I work with have families, but I also have quite a few who are single. And quite a few who are Muslim. Dearbourn, Michigan has the highest population of Muslims in the U.S., so there are a lot of people from there moving to Windsor, which also has a huge Muslim population.
Do you expect to hear from even more Muslim people following Friday’s ban?
I do. I have already helped members of my own family who are Muslim move from Michigan to Windsor. That was a little bit easier, because one family member already had dual American/Canadian citizenship. It’s personal for me, as well as professional. My dad is Muslim, and my mom was Christian and converted to Islam. She’s Irish, and my dad is Lebanese. He actually built one of the first mosques in Windsor, where I grew up, and was very active in the community. I don’t go to a mosque in Toronto, but I consider myself Muslim.
So do you see this as a social and political project as well as a business endeavour?
I do. These are people who are thinking about moving their lives. It’s not just “where can I get a good deal?” It’s people who are sharing their fears and their concerns. A lot of people I am speaking to have compared the feeling in cities like New York and Chicago to how it felt after 9/11. I’m sure it’s different if you’re down in Texas.
What are some common misconceptions that people have about making the move?
People think they can just come to Canada—they don’t realize that there’s a process involved. It’s hard to get specific because every case is different. People come here on work visas, some get sponsored by family members, some are buying second homes here. And then who knows—if it gets even worse in the States, maybe they can all just apply for refugee status.
How many people have you actually helped relocate to Canada?
No one has actually completed a move yet, because going through the process and finding a place to live takes more than a couple of months. I am in that process with a lot of people.
What about someone who is well on their way?
I am working with a senior woman named Dora, who lives in Toledo, Ohio, and is in the process of moving to Toronto. The funny thing about her is that she was never a Democrat. She supported Bush and other Republican presidents, but when Trump got into office, she was just determined that she wasn’t going to stay. She doesn’t foresee America becoming great again. Her husband passed away quite a while ago. You have to be pretty motivated to pick up and start a new life, especially when you’re a little older. I hope I can help more people like that.
On a personal level, how are you handling the daily barrage of depressing news?
I do yoga. I go to downward dog and it’s all okay. I think with the world being so frightening, you have to make time for yourself.
You have a clock on your website counting down the days until Trump is out of office. It says 344 days. Do you know something we don’t, or is that wishful thinking?
Oh, no. If it says that, that’s an error. I’ll have to fix that. I’ve been really busy!