Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On Immigration

Even though I'm so far away from the border of Arizona and Mexico, the debate over this stretch of land and the people that pass through it is still on my mind. With the new law implemented in my home state, I can't help but return to contemplate this issue. I understand that this "issue" is so politically infused, one cannot even mention the words "illegal immigration" without stiring up trouble. And I do not want to do that here. To preface, I am speaking in generalities, I do not wish to accuse or praise any political party, and I realize that this debate goes much deeper than policies. 

What I do find most interesting are the parallels in the US and my new adoptive country. Did you know that Chile also deals with consequences of having thousands of illegal immigrants? Although here, they are mostly from the neighboring countries of Peru and Bolivia. And they have the exact same double-sided debate as the US does concerning the actions that should be taken (or not be taken) against the non-Chileans. They also share the same prejudices and skepticism against the "outsiders;" just as it is becoming difficult to distinguish between racism and patriotism in the US, it is difficult to live as a legal Peruvian immigrant in Chile without people assuming he/she is an undocumented immigrant. For me this notion of dislike towards Peruvians and Bolivians seems silly, because why in the world would I personally have prior bias against these people? But to a Chilean, the same is true for North American sentiments against Mexicans (Note: I'm not saying all United States citizens hate all Mexican citizens, but because of the struggles with illegal immigration from Mexico, as a whole I believe the US' opinions about Mexicans as a whole are tainted).

What it really comes down to, is that it is sad that anyone should feel the only option for a better life for themselves and their family is to risk their life and break the law to work difficult jobs far away from their home. Chile is the wealthiest, most developed country in South America while Peru and Bolivia have much higher poverty rates. So, just as someone from Mexico can work a minumum wage job in the US and still earn more money than working another job in Mexico, someone from Bolivia can work a minimum wage job in Chile and often earn more than working in Bolivia. The core issue is the countries from which the people are moving are so desperate that their own people must flee to survive. And this breaks my heart, this is the real tragedy.


  1. Very well put :) I hope you are having a great time over there!

  2. Touche', mi hija. ...oooxxx...bmw