”Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity… They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.”
I was initially introduced to the complicated stories of US immigration when I took a intercultural feminist theology class a few years ago and a friend spoke of the conditions that women go through trying to get into the US from Central and South America. My friend spoke of the horrors that women endured by trying to escape poverty and they were stories that broke down my assumptions and ignorance of immigration. Before that, I had almost no grasp on what was happening with immigration – being an ignorant white US citizen, it was a topic that never impacted my life until that class.
A year after that class, I took another class that was specifically about immigration and the same friend was in that class as well. Through that class, my friend, and interning with an immigration organization, I had all of my assumptions and foundations broken down about immigrants and immigration.
With President Obama’s actions with the southern US border, there is a lot of news happening in regards to US immigration. President Obama has pressed Central American countries to slow the wave of child migrants and has deported and detained an increasingly large number of immigrants during his term. You’ve probably heard by now the number of protests and issues happening with trying to deport children back to Central America. Todd Miller, the author of Border Patrol Nation, spoke about what has been missing with the discussions on child refugees at the border.
There is so much happening with this topic but one important thing that I’ve been keeping in mind with everything is the root causes of current immigration to the US. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been around for 20 years at this point and has had an unbelievable impact on the Mexican economy and immigration into the US. The Honduran Foreign Minister spoke with NPR about how the US should address the root causes of immigration.
Immigration should absolutely be a feminist issue and concern not only for the root causes but also for the way in which the US has been treating undocumented immigrants within the country. Patricia Valoy wrote about why exactly immigration should be a feminist concern, highlighting the gender bias within the immigration system and labor force (for employment visas).