Trump: A Letter From Mexico
'What you say may cause deep damage that will last
longer than a government's mandate or a financial year.'
By Jose Carlos Yee Quintero
writing to you as a migration researcher and the
coordinator of the Casa del Migrante (Migrant's House)
in Tijuana, which provides assistance mainly to men who
have been deported to
Mexico from the
I am also
writing to you as the descendant of Chinese migrants,
born in Tijuana, at the southern border of your country,
where I have witnessed the impact of US migration
policies first-hand while I was growing up.
The US has
deported more than two million immigrants between
2010 and 2015. This represents more than twice the
population of San Francisco. But, we also need to
understand that we are talking about actual people and
years, the Mexican government has taken several steps
affecting migrants trying to enter the US, such as
introducing checkpoints within Mexico, and raising the
speed of some freight trains on which Mexicans and
Central Americans travel towards the "American dream".
I will tell you
why this matters.
When I worked
at the border between Guatemala and Mexico, I met
Sandra, a woman from Honduras who was travelling towards
the US with her 16-year-old daughter. Sandra was running
away from the Mara Salvatrucha gang, one of Latin
America's most powerful street gangs, which was trying
to recruit her child by force.
As they tried
to board one of these freight trains, Sandra's daughter
managed to get on the train, but Sandra fell on to the
rail tracks because of the train's high speed, and lost
her left leg in the accident. Sandra spent weeks in the
hospital, away from her daughter, who could not get off
the train and spent two months looking for her mother.
Why am I
telling you this story?
the speed of freight trains from 10 km/h to 60 or 70 is
one of the measures that have been indirectly supported
through different US programmes and funding schemes.
years, the control of migration to the US has started to
take place from the south of Mexico itself. In real
life, these policies result in broken families,
mutilations, death, and suffering.
cases like that of Sandra and her daughter are very
common. Just enter any migrant shelter in the south,
along one of the migration routes that crisscross
Mexico, or go on the main square of a city like
Tapachula, and you'll see migrants with makeshift leg
prostheses made out of PVC tubes and sellotape.
Let me tell you
about some other cases.
I met Maria
when she was staying in a shelter for migrant women in
the north of Mexico. She was captured in California, on
her way to work as a domestic worker, and deported.
María's main problem was not the deportation itself, but
that her four-year-old child, who is a US citizen and
was in the nursery at the time of her mother's
deportation, was sent into foster care.
Now Maria is
facing arduous processes that may take years, and may
not even allow her to see her daughter again.
story is that of deported war veterans. After serving
the United States in several wars, some vets end up
being deported to Mexico because they have committed a
felony and are not US citizens. After serving their
sentence in the US, and although they've lived most of
their life in the US and have pledged to protect this
country, they are deported.
I am telling
you these brief stories to give you a glimpse into the
real-life consequences of complex migration policies. I
hope you can imagine how many different scenarios can
exist and how hard it is for every one of those millions
of persons to get back on their feet after a deportation
or migration-related problem. In your new job, your
decisions will not only impact the lives of US citizens,
but also those of millions of fathers, mothers and
children in dozens of other countries.
I trust that
your administration will represent US citizens and their
concerns as best you can. I do not expect that the
decisions you make in this area will leave us all
satisfied. I simply ask that, before you take steps that
will affect the future of millions of migrants and their
families, you listen and have an open mind to understand
how these decisions can not only affect other countries,
One last thing:
I'd like to remind you how important your public
discourse will be during your mandate. What you say may
cause deep damage that will last longer than a
government's mandate or a financial year. Your discourse
can become the ground for years of racism and xenophobia
towards people who only want to survive, to work, and to
give their loved ones the chance of a decent life.
will leave its mark on the world's history. I hope that
this legacy will make you - as well as your voters and
the millions of people who haven't voted for you, but
whom you now represent - proud.
Best of luck.
Jose Carlos Yee
This text has been
edited for clarity and length.
expressed in this article are the author's own and do
not necessarily reflect Information Clearing House
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