Even beyond the daily recounting of the ways in which undocumented migrants, obligated by circumstance, are the protagonists in their own story, their clear presence in policy decisions that could help them or hurt them conveys a profound sense of humanity. We are beginning to get a glimpse of a new U.S. identity that will define the future concept of this country.
Whether it is the existence of a proposed border wall to “prevent” entry, or the daily intimidation inherent in official rhetoric, or who should be “disqualified” with insults about their immigration status, or even those who fight on their behalf in diverse fronts, their presence at the social praxis of our time has acquired a historic force that is both evident and irrefutable.
For those who reside in the trench of shame, racism or xenophobia and would like to see hundreds of thousands of immigrants without documents, who have lived here for years, leave, it all comes down to a legal punishment which, more than sanctioning them, actually destroys and breaks them, taking them away from their legitimate aspirations to overcome and survive like any human being.
For those working in defense of human rights, who see these immigrants as a group that is totally integrated into U.S. society and that contributes to its economic, cultural, and demographic richness, the fight to win legalization and respect for their humanity has become the very definition of an inclusive, diverse, and pro-immigrant United States.
Between those two poles, the evolution of a country that seemed to be the most complete and vital of all countries in human history is still being debated in light of one lone prejudice: fear of the “other.”
What’s more, the multiple migration categories that immigrants have organized themselves into–TPS beneficiaries, Dreamers, undocumented immigrants, asylum-seekers, refugees, et cetera–make one realize the very dynamism and energy that they have brought to the political class, of all stripes, forcing them to debate, legislate, propose, and maintain the hope that, some day, the good side of humanity will be allowed to prevail –in this and future generations.
That is why it is profoundly interesting to see how the new U.S. identity is revealing itself day after day, polishing itself into a new society thanks to the presence of these immigrants, who are definitely not invisible, but have decided to speak, tell their stories, denounce abuses including those committed by the president, and protect themselves in community. For example not too far back, following a massive immigration raid in North Carolina, documented immigrants organized themselves to take the children of their undocumented neighbors to school, out of fear of ICE operatives. That is community.
In that sense, while politicians decide what to do on the legislative playing field, the migration reality moves on with the times, with undocumented immigrants overcoming attacks (even from other immigrants enjoying a better position), working just as hard as ever, educating their children, paying taxes, keeping local economies afloat and dynamizing the demographics of a country that is getting older and reproducing less.
In the end, when everything takes its course, when prejudices are demolished, when a new country is conceptualized with all that it already has today, it’ll be worth asking what part of this chapter in history did each of us play, in a country where racism has not disappeared, but where we never stop fighting against it.