Invisible Citizens | Immigrant
As we near the close of 2017, we look back on a year that has been mired in conflict and huge social upheavals. Across the world there has been a seemingly endless wave of tragedies, some forcing entire communities to leave behind the relative familiarity of home for new, and often dangerous, places. Few countries have avoided the tides of people looking to escape conflict, hunger, or those simply looking for the prospects of better lives for themselves and those they love.
Whether it is the refugee crisis sweeping across much of Europe, the tragic situation unfolding in Myanmar, or the new policies the administration of the United States has implemented, governments have struggled with what course to take, in order to deal with surging populations and very often humanitarian crisis unfolding around their borders.
The increase in numbers of people looking to escape their homelands in favor of safety and better opportunities has caused many countries to turn towards less than sympathetic views. This is evident in many of the nationalistic political groups’ gain of traction within countries affected most by immigration. Even now, as Venezuela is reeling from political turmoil, public unrest, food, and health shortages, people fleeing the nation are met with a sense of resistance from the countries they enter, specifically in the instances of Colombia and Peru. Which is surprisingly odd, given many people from those nations are not opposed to immigration – until it affects their home country, that is.
Nationalistic Responses and an Overlooked Struggle
The news of nationalist movements and the policies set in place have continually been a point of contention for many citizens within the countries’ most heavily affected by the surge of immigration. Lost among the infighting between parties and citizens themselves, an overlooked but vitally important factor of the entire situation is going unnoticed by many – the immigrants themselves. The strife and difficulties faced by those that have left behind everything they have known to find refuge in another country, knowing no one, not speaking the language or the culture.
The difficulties faced by immigrants is one that cannot, and should never, be overlooked, as t it’s heart, the immigration debacle is a human problem.
The Difficulties of Starting Over
For many immigrants, the choice of leaving behind everything they once knew is one that is not made lightly. The immense difficulty of having to decide to enter a foreign country is something that can be conveniently overlooked by those that argue against immigration.
As immigrants struggle to start over from scratch, they can at times feel completely shunned or ignored by the very people they are growing to call neighbors or the place they are learning to call home. That feeling of invisibility is only enhanced by the difficulty faced in trying to build a life once again from nothing.
For those that enter countries illegally, often out of desperation, that feeling of invisibility is only compounded by the fact they must lead a life completely hidden from official view.
For many, joining society in full capacity is simply not an option, as exposure to local government agencies would spell deportation under most circumstances.
Addressing the Invisible Problem
And while the leaders of nations continue to debate over the best way to deal with the surge in people crossing borders, both legally and without permission, the people that are affected most are overlooked at best – at worst, demonized.
An alarming trend is becoming more and more apparent with each new country that faces a surge in immigration, one of growing nationalism and segregation. Seen in many countries across the world, an influx of immigration often sparks or empowers existing nationalistic parties into action. Fueled by fear, the parties begin to gain traction. People often fear any perceived threat, a fear often masking xenophobia.
As we move forward, we have to recognize these struggles and shine a light on a situation that cannot be overlooked much longer. This, while avoiding the gut instinct to close ourselves off to others based on fear.