Sixteen years ago, the United Nations (UN) marked December 18 as the International Migrant Day to remember those who died while searching for a better life, and also as a recognition to the migrants’ contributions to the societies that receive them.
Today this date has a special significance for immigrants in the United States. In our country, the challenge those communities face have changed drastically with the electoral triumph of Donald Trump.
There are no more talks about what a fair immigration reform would like, but about how to prevent the deportation of millions of people. The debate to extend protection from deportation for undocumented parents of native children led to discussions about how to stop the deportation of Dreamers who are recipients of the DACA presidential order. And for Muslims, both immigrants and U.S.-born, to the threat of discrimination now is added the possibility that, because of their religion, they might be included in a government registry.
This is a real threat that requires action. Numerous local governments have already vowed to defend its residents who, although without papers, are a valuable part of their city. The states hosting a significant amount of immigrants know about their work ethic, responsibility and honesty.
This Sunday 18, both in Los Angeles and New York, there will be rallies and meetings demanding respect for immigrant communities and against policies that feed hatred and resentment. This is one of many opportunities to show opposition to deportations and reaffirm that this is a nation that keeps being built by immigrants.
The situation of our community is part of a global phenomenon.
There are more than 244 million immigrants in the world, 20 million of them refugees. Thousands embark every day on a risky journey to escape poverty or threats. Many of them die, like the close to 4,000 deaths in the Mediterranean sea only this year. This, while trying to reach a developed country that needs young labor and yet will exploit them and demonize them politically.
The International Migrant Day reminds us that we are not alone in this struggle for dignity. And also that, in a nation as diverse as ours, you only need to look around to see that no race or religion can divide immigrants when they are united by the desire for improvement and to attain respect for them and their families.