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Migrant Children from Central America Are Not Mere Statistics

Niños migrantes en clase. Imagen en Flickr del usuario pies cansados (CC BY-ND 2.0) .

Migrant children in a schooclass. Image on Flickr by user pies cansados (CC BY-ND 2.0).

In an opinion piece for the American newspaper Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Global Voices contributor Jamie Stark wonders, “What kind of parent would pay $10,000 for a stranger to bring a child 1,400 miles through gangland and hostile border crossings? A good parent, perhaps.”

As a concerned citizen about the crisis of migrant children, Stark reflects:

What do we do with these kids? An important decision, to be certain, but one that overlooks the humanity, the story, of each child crossing our border.
[...]
When a parent from Central America hears the rumor that children are being allowed to stay in the U.S., it's not so hard to imagine spending life savings of $10,000 to $15,000 for a stranger to guide a son or daughter north.
[...]
These kids are not mere statistics. Many never wanted to be here in the first place.

Global Voices has published stories on this issue in the past:
- The Humanitarian Tragedy of Children Emigrating Alone
- An Open Letter to Salvadoran Migrant Children
- Trafficked Ecuadorian Children Pass Through Hell on the Way to the US

How Kenyans Can Lead a Double Life in the US

Danstan Obara shows how Kenyans can lead a double life in the US:

The American double life starts by making sure that your social security card does not have the stamp that says “Valid for work only with INS authorization”. The things that people do to get rid of this stamp are amazing. I will not go into those details here.

The next step is to walk into an organization or business and apply for a job. You will have to pretend that you are an American, born and raised in America. This can be a very dumb thing to say sometimes because in many cases when you are fresh out of Kenya, it is difficult for anybody to miss the accent. Amazingly almost everybody I know has always gotten away with it. There is a law against racial and ethnic profiling in America so, employers would rather go with the information they are provided with and stick with what they can prove.

Individuals with visiting visas, who opt to extend there stay do not even get the social security cards. What this means is that they cannot legally work anywhere. The things they do are even more hilarious. It is a psychological fact that white people cannot easily differentiate black people. So people simply share identification documents. Imagine of a guy walking into an office to apply for a job with an identification card that has someone else’s photo on it. Once again, not even one person I know has ever been caught.

The Story of Famine Refugees from Niger in Eastern Algeria

In the past few weeks, hundreds of Sub-Saharan immigrants from Mali or Niger have migrated to Algerian cities by the Eastern border. Liberté Algérie narrates the stories of those who made the choice to immigrate and why [fr] :

Les conditions de vie au hangar de la cité Bourroh sont inhumaines. A l’intérieur du hangar, les Subsahariens ont dressé des tentes, une soixantaine environ. A l’intérieur de chaque tente, trop exiguë, vivent, serrés les uns contre les autres, tous les membres d’une même famille. [..] Meriem et Aïcha sont deux sœurs âgées respectivement de 10 et 12 ans. Avec leur mère, elles ont fui leur pays d’origine, le Niger, à cause de la pauvreté. “Nous avons quitté notre pays, parce que nous n’avions plus quoi manger. Meriem et Aïcha sont deux sœurs âgées respectivement de 10 et 12 ans. Egalement originaires du Niger, Sakina, sa fille Asma et ses deux petits-enfants s’étaient réfugiés à Aïn Guezzam, dans la wilaya de Tamanrasset, à l’extrême sud du Sahara. Dans un arabe approximatif, notre interlocutrice nous apprendra qu’ils font partie d’un groupe qui a fui la faim au Niger.

The living conditions in the shed of the city of Bourroh are inhumane. Inside the shed, Sub-Saharan immigrants have pitched about sixty tents. Inside each (very small) tent, they all live together, tight against each other, all members of the same family. [..] Meriem and Aisha are two sisters aged respectively 10 and 12. With their mother, they fled their country of origin, Niger, because of poverty. “We left our country because we did not have enough to eat’ Meriem says. Also from Niger, Sakina, her daughter Asma and her two grandchildren are refugees in Ain Guezzam in the wilaya of Tamanrasset, at the extreme south of the Sahara desert. In a hesitant arabic language, Sakira tell us that they are part of a group who fled the rampant famine in Niger. 

Cuba: The Joys of Getting Older

Cuban diaspora blog My big, fat, Cuban family shares 59 “wonderful truths” about aging.

Galician Influence in Argentina

The digital edition of Rumbos [es] magazine analyzes the Galician influence in Argentina, and explains the country had two big migratory flows: between 1857 and 1930, a millon Galician arrived; and between 1946 and 1960, came another 110,000. From that total amount, 600,000 made Argentina their final home. Thus, half of the Spanish migrants that arrived to the country were born in Galicia. They even note:

It's a usual saying that Galicia has five provinces: La Coruña, Lugo, Orense, Pontevedra and… Argentina. [...] So many people came [from Galicia] that, according to 1914 National Population Census, Buenos Aires housed about 150,000 Galician individuals, while in La Coruña, the most populated city by then, there were 60 inhabitants.

The article also notes the so called “migratory chain”, as emigration was a strategic family decision. The first link of that chain was a male family member, usually the most skilled who, once settled in his new home, called together the family he had left behind in Spain. Those who arrived later had here a countryfolk ready to help them.

Eerie Similarities in Deaths Provoked by Police Brutality in Staten Island and Paris

Eric Garner was a 44-year-old African-American man who died following an attempted arrest by the NY Police Department. On July 17, 2014, when police officers attempted to arrest Garner, he had broken up a fight. Garner who suffered from asthma was wrestled to the ground. Medical examiners concluded chokehold and chest compression as the primary causes of Garner's death and Garner's heart problems, obesity and asthma as additional factors. Here is a video of the accident [Warning: Graphic Images]

A few days later (28 August) in Roissy, France, Abdelhak Goradia, a 51 year old Algerian citizen also died inside a police van. The police was carrying Goradia to the airport to be deported back to Algeria when they initially affirmed that he died of a heart attack. Justice department corrected that assessment and stated that Goradia died from choking on his own gastric fluids. His lawyer stated that Goradia called him to say that he was taken away in handcuffs and a head gear. Goradia was previously charged with theft, petty crimes and violence.

An Open Letter to Salvadoran Migrant Children

MigrantesCentroamericanos

Balloon animals lift the spirits of Central American children on the long journey. Photo on Flickr by user Peter Haden. CC BY 2.0.

From El Salvador, Pablo Lüers writes an open letter to migrant children who have traveled on their own to the United States and who will be deported back to their countries:

Ustedes aquí en El Salvador y en su pueblo o barrio, se van a encontrar de vuelta con cada una de las razones que los hicieron emprender el viaje, a pesar de todos los riesgos. Quienes de ustedes tienen hermanos mayores pandilleros, los van a encontrar todavía sin perspectiva de salida de la cárcel o de la vida criminal, porque aun no existe una política pública para abrirles puertas a una vida dentro de la sociedad.

[...] Todos, hayan sido victimas de pandillas o de policías o simplemente de la violencia generalizada, van a regresar a lo mismo. Porque es ilusorio pensar que las grandes noticias sobre su odisea en los desiertos y los territorios de narcos en México, sobre su captura y su sobre su deportación hayan despertado en los gobernantes de su patria El Salvador conciencia de lo que deben a esta generación perdida que llaman “jóvenes en riesgo”.

Así que, bichos, prepárense bien: En el aeropuerto los va a recibir con discursos conmovedores, pero al rato les va a tocar ver cómo sobreviven, cómo terminen la escuela, cómo encuentran un trabajo, y cómo hacen para no volverse pandilleros o víctimas de pandilleros, presos o muertos.

Here in El Salvador and in your town or neighborhood, you will face again the same reasons that made you set out on your journey, in spite of all possible risks. Those of you who have older brothers in gangs will find they still don't see a way out of jail or a life of crime, as there are no public policies to open doors for them in society.

[...] All of you, whether victim of gangs or police agents or just the general violence, will be back to the same situation. It is illusory to think that the big news about your ordeal in the deserts and the drug dealer territories in Mexico, about your detention and deportation have awakened awareness in the rulers of your country, El Salvador, about what they owe this lost generation they know as “youth at risk”.

So, lads, be prepared. At the airport, you'll be welcomed with heartbreaking speeches, but in no time you will have to figure out how to survive, how to graduate from school, how to find a job and how not to become part of a gang or a victim of a gang, how not to end up in jail or dead.

The Humanitarian Tragedy of Children Emigrating Alone

From Mexico, Katia D'Artigues, author of the blog Campos Elíseos (Champs Elysées), writes about the children who see themselves forced to emigrate on their own [es], and calls this a “humanitarian tragedy”:

Son niños que son orillados a cruzar la frontera solos. No lo hacen por aventura, sino porque muchas veces no les queda de otra, por pobreza; porque buscan reunirse con un familiar quizá su padre o su madre que ya está en Estados Unidos. Su número crece día con día. Ya se cuentan en miles y al menos un centenar son detenidos todos los días de acuerdo a cifras no oficiales.

They are children who are pulled to cross the border by themselves. They don't do it for the sake of adventure, but because most of the times they don't have any more choices, out of poverty; because they are looking to reunite with a relative, maybe their father or mother who is already in the United States. Figures grow day by day. They are already counted by the thousands and at least a hundred are put into custody every day, according to unofficial numbers.

She then adds:

Cómo están estos niños? Independiente de su estatus y nacionalidad son niños y tienen derechos. [...] Lo cierto es que ya se estipuló que se les asignará un abogado gratis para ver su proceso que, como es obvio, es único en cada caso. Ahora, son solo 100 abogados que comenzarán a trabajar en diciembre de este año o enero de 2015.
No van a alcanzar.

How are those children? No matter their status and citizenship, they are children and have rights. [...] It's established already that they will be provided an attorney for free to assess their process, which obviously is one per child. For now, there are only 100 attorneys who will start working by December this year or January 2015.
They won't be enough.

Migrants in Times of Crisis

Julen at the Artisan Consulting Network points [es] at some of the problems should migrants and their condition of being threatened, strangers, others: 

Coy glances, whispered conversations. The other is no longer mine. Maybe he thought that some day he would be. Or not. But not now, it is no longer possible. It is unnecessary. A dispensable human. That is a bother, that usurps, that occupies a space that does not belong to him. Without rights. You are on borrowed time. Get out of here.

He ends with this reflection:

So hard, cruel, and absurd. That is how I have seen and felt it. How hard it is for you and for your family, being who you are. My admiration, migrant. Mi admiration.

The outlined post participated in the second #GVBlogsMonday [es] on May 12, 2014, sent by @jgdelsol

A 5-Minute Video Could Be Your Ticket to New York

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) invites young people under the age of 25 to submit original 5-minute videos on migration, diversity and social inclusion to the Plural+2014 film festival. Three winning videos will receive $1000 and the makers will be invited to New York City to attend an award ceremony.

The deadline is June 27, 2014.

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