Monday, April 21, 2014

A "Roots of Migration" Delegation

by James Hutter

Witness for Peace – Roots of Migration Delegation

James Hutter

         In July of 2013, I was privileged to be included on a Witness for Peace Delegation to Mexico to study the Roots of Migration. I use the word “privilege” with a strong sense of reservation, particularly after now understanding the power behind the term. Throughout the entire trip, it was clear that the economic plans of “privileged countries,” namely the United States and Canada, have far-reaching effects. Additionally, it became clear that the “privileged” citizens of these countries had almost no knowledge of how the laws of governments and the revenue growth policies of corporations have led to extensive problems in Latin America. Sadly, it also became painfully clear that I was one of the privileged citizens that had close to zero knowledge about what was happening to a huge portion of Mexican citizens and others throughout Central America.
The purpose of the Roots of Migration Delegation was to visit areas that were being directly influenced by migration, hear stories of why it was occurring, and to garner a better understanding of the extensive, mostly negative, impact of governmental policies on the lives of ordinary people. In some of the cases that we encountered, migrants were leaving the rural towns that they had been raised in and were traveling to the United States for better opportunities. In other instances, people were desperately fleeing civil war and bloodshed in the hopes of finding safety and security.
Migrants riding on "La Bestia" ("The Beast"),
where they not only face the dangers of
the train itself, but kidnappings,
rape, extortion, and violence. 
During one stop, we were told some of the horrors that migrants face when traveling to the United States through Mexico from Central America. That was a poignant moment. I realized that conditions in some of these regions must be truly terrible and people simply had no hope left if they were willing to undertake the perilous journey.
Other stops on the Delegation exposed us to very distressing stories shared with us by those most impacted by migration: The fracturing of families... Incarcerations... Missing relatives presumed to be dead.
Yet, some areas were successfully fighting these detrimental policies using the same laws and concepts that had created many of these economic issues. They touted enterprise and self economic development as their weapons against migration from their city and potential exploitation by foreign corporations.
After traveling with the Delegation, my goal was to share some of the stories and encounters that I had experienced with whomever would listen. My only wish is that those who read these postings will take them into account when talking about and debating immigration or governmental policy.

The debate around Comprehensive Immigration Reform continues.

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