The other day three Guatemalans shared their experiences of migrating to the US and being deported. I don’t want to try and relay their life story or begin to pretend like I have an answer on exactly how immigration should be handled. But I think there are several things everyone should understand.
1.) Immigrants, (documented or not) are people just like me or you. Given the circumstances and the choices faced by a migrant, you may very well decide that illegally entering a country is your best option also. Be very careful what you criminalize.
2.) “They” aren’t coming to take your jobs and loaf off your tax payments. “They” would much rather be in their own country with their own family than risking their life to get to the US and do a job most US citizens don’t want to do.* It’s not literally America that is the allure of the “American Dream”, but rather the ability to work and obtain a decent standard of living for your work.
3.) On that note, it is NEVER FAIR OR JUST to say that people who are poor ARE POOR BECAUSE THEY ARE LAZY. Many very poor people work harder than I could ever dream of. Structural causes, people! Yes many poor people do drugs and have mental illness. Many rich people also do drugs and have mental illnesses; they just have the privacy of a house so you don’t have to know about it.
4.) In fact, people who migrate tend to be of the intelligent, brave, resourceful, and hardworking sort. Do you think it sounds fun and easy to spend a few months to riding through Mexico squished in a truck and then hiking the Chihuahuan desert with people you’ve never met?
5.) Not knowing English does not make a person stupid unless you are stupid for not knowing Quiche.
Generalization to live by: Analyze the causes of a social problem instead of condemning the effects.
*I don’t mean to generalize for an entire population, but I think the point needs to be made in that way.