Column

Treating Migrants Better Makes a Nation Better

 

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Mexico

A monthly column featuring stories of music, cinema and culture from Mexico City.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO — I love Mexico. I have never considered living anywhere else.

I love the food. The traditions. And the culture.

Of course, I see the political, social and economic challenges that we face. We are a country where 9.4 million people live in extreme poverty. We are a country where women and journalists are murdered every day.

Those things sometimes make me wonder why so many foreigners choose to live here. Maybe they find the beauty in Mexico, as I do. During research for a recent story, I had the chance to meet two women who left their nations, cultures and families behind to start a new life here.

It was during those talks that I realized that that there is no single reason why people come here. Some are looking for work. Others are looking for peace and safety. In every case, Mexico offers things that they did not find in their countries. Just as other countries often offer Mexicans things they can’t find here.

There are 12 million Mexicans living in other countries, including the United States.

My research into why people move to new countries has been fascinating. One constant that I have learned is that foreigners in my country, as in others, are often mistreated. NGOs and government programs here are aimed at eliminating the inequality that migrants experience because of prejudice or just a lack of familiarity with the systems here.

This research and realization has prompted an important question, which I cannot yet answer.

If we stopped seeing migrants, regardless of their origins or reasons for migration, as intruders and instead treated them as equals, would our nation change?

With so much talk about what happens at the border of my country, the one we share with the U.S., I think it is important for journalists to think more deeply about borders and what it means to cross them. I hope that my reporting can infuse the conversation about migrations with dignity that helps readers understand how and why people migrate, rather just focusing on stereotypes and prejudice.