Poor migrants: The martyrs of double standards

May 10, 2018

Fifteen migrants on a hunger strike were enough to reveal contrasts: the indifference of the authorities and the generosity of people not looking for a vote or a bone.

ARIZONA – I’ve seen them when they turn around and pretend they’re not there. I have seen how they pass them with their eyes trying to disguise the discomfort caused by their presence imposed by necessity and geography. I have seen how they justify their contempt and disguise it as charity. I’ve seen it in Mexico, in the United States and Europe. Yes, I have seen the eyes that rest on the poor migrants.

The Central Americans who are stranded in Mexico in search of protection, those who came to the United States seeking asylum and the refugees who risk their lives to reach Europe fleeing the war are the undesirables of society; the martyrs of double morality. They have always been there (we have, because I am also a migrant). We did not want to see them because they remind us of our misery and complicity. They do not scare us, poverty does, and we do not want to see it face-to-face, so real, so exposed, so undeniable, as flesh and blood, so similar to us … so faithful to our reflection.

We talk about human rights and we condemn the extreme measures of repatriation of the United States because we always see them alien and distant; but when that migratory phenomenon arrives at our door, when we stop becoming a place of passage, our faces are disfigured. We do not like to change roles. We are irked by the irony of history and the fate that compels us to see them in the eye.

In Sonora, the Central Americans are forcing us to hold their eyes. And good!

The migrant caravan unmasked the “good will” of the main social institutions and the interests of the government. When the cameras were on, everything was charity; when they left, a clamor to stop helping the migrants, so that “they do not stay to take advantage of the people”. But it is ironic that the only one who has taken the caste and heart is the people. So, politicians, please, stop talking for them.

But we are in the electoral period, and in Mexico immigration is also a campaign banner; more perception, less awareness. And it is true, not all migrants are good, but not all are villains. Some flee, others seek, some dream and a few take advantage. It is true. But we also have to be honest: Not all migrants look bad. Those who invest are respected; to the well-educated, they are praised; those with a symmetrical face, marked features and blue eyes are protected. A foreigner with resources is not invisible or seems make you uncomfortable. A wealthy migrant is not feared or ignored, as are the others.

In Mexico there is a vast population of undocumented Americans and Europeans living without being judged by society or the immigration authorities themselves, just because of their resources and appearance. So, let’s not navigate with the flag that we are fighting illegal immigration in Mexico, when in reality we are only trying to deport poverty.

No, not all migrants are the same. What happens is that it is hard for us to admit that we see the need with different eyes: The poor are asked for papers; to the rich, the bills.