I grew up in that borderline between the USA and Mexico, Chicano-Land. Although I grew up between the two countries, I've always considered myself “Mexican” until I came to Canada, a country that received me as an “international student”—an American student.
Back at home, the USA, it always bothered me that Americans and even Chicanos would speak in a pejorative manner about Mexicans. It was especially disturbing that the Chicano people did not want to help their own race -- many times denying their origins and pretending that they could not speak proper Spanish as if they could erase their origins, the darkness of their skin, or their Spanish accent.
Once I stepped into Canadian land, I immediately noticed the critical comments about Americans, and it burned me the same way it did when Americans talked poorly about Mexicans. Nonetheless, I've heard a lot of people remarking how Canadians are not racist at all "they bring Mexicans in with a working visa allowing them to work and pursue a better future, not only for them but also for their families." Now, this is the first time I am in a country on a visa. This means that I still have the lowest immigration status, just like the Mexican migrant workers, so every time people talked about the marvelous advantages of the migrant program, I bit my tongue.
Just a few days ago while I was touring “beautiful Canada” I overheard a conversation: “Canadians bring Mexicans because they can fit about 10 of them in a little room and work them hard.” I was outraged and insulted by the comment; “Good thing Canadians don't discriminate!”
I felt humiliated. Period!
I have always felt that the Canadian migrant workers’ program takes the best of Mexicans and sends them back home with nothing. Yes, they make enough money to support their family back home, but in return, they forfeit the best years of their lives. They miss their families’ best years and develop a truly unique relationship where, quite honestly, their only role is to send money home. They represent a peso sign for their families. Worse of all, they are let go at an older age, with little-to-no skills to survive in their home countries.
With limited education, limited verbal skills (this time in both English and Spanish) and a sense of self where they no longer belong in their home country or in the host country – they are left hanging in this limbo-like place. Their only option is to live between the two countries acknowledging what they are given but not knowing exactly what benefits are applicable to them.
America has experienced migration since colonial times when Europeans conquered the Indian lands and modernized them to a point, destroying the Indians’ culture and denying them a social status. I know the USA does not do much better for the migrant population; in fact, many countries reject the simple idea of migrants looking for better opportunities. It takes courage to fight for a better future there. Nothing is given to us, and we aren't asking for anything to be handed to us.
A family of squirrels lived on the plateau of the Grand Canyon. One day the canyon split. Half the squirrels were on the north rim and the other half on the south. Over time, the two families became different. Each one adjusted to their own environment. The ones to the north were dark, bushy-tailed, and have bigger ears. The ones to the south were leaner, meaner and much prettier. Even though they look different and they act different...they were the exact same squirrel. They just grew up on different sides.
After all, we are each and every one the same species, but we are hesitant to accept others. We are too easy to judge and scared to trust another culture, to accept differences in color, language, and nationality. We would never be able to grasp the affliction others cope with in their own countries. Some people have endured military regimes and their only option has been to have the opportunity to be a refugee. We can’t even begin to think what people have gone through. To us, their stories seem to be taken out of a fiction book. People from Latin America have had to fight to stay alive and to not be compelled to join the forces of a military regime -- fearing that one night might be the last night they see their families; people from Mexico live never knowing when they will be separated from their families and fear the dire consequences that could occur from being in the wrong place at the wrong time; people from Middle Eastern countries have waited for years to be able to come to escape their daily nightmares.
It all comes down to people not wanting to see others get ahead. We find pleasure in others’ suffering, not knowing that our poison isn’t killing anyone besides ourselves. Oftentimes, the people who go far are the ones who have suffered the most and never allow themselves to quit. So dream and dream big, never allowing anyone to slow you down. Remember the old saying: “A prophet is without honour in his own land.”