IMMIGRANT LESSONS FROM A TELENOVELA: Under the Same Sky

Bajo el mismo cielo‘ is the Spanish name of a captivating american telenovela released in 2015 under the English titleUnder the Same Sky‘. Almost all the main characters are very passionate in standing up to what they believe, fight for those they love, and are extremely hardworking. Obviously, with some family members having undocumented immigrant status, it can be hard to find decent jobs and some end up in gangs with all the crime, drug use and the usual that follows such. Each immigrant regardless of documentation status has come to America in search of a better life remind us of an African proverb “when you see a rat running into the fire, know that what is chasing it is hotter than fire”.

The world over, several factors have caused people to emigrate to different countries. Highly controversial figures have emigrated forcefully into exile or to seek asylum. Endless wars have forced millions to flee into unfamiliar territory as refugees all in the hope of safety and with barely anything substantial to sustain life.

The biting levels of poverty and unemployment have forced millions more to emigrate and try to forge a better life for themselves and their families back home. Then of course we have the few who emigrate just because they can afford to travel and live almost anywhere in the world (we will not be discussing this group).

So, for the millions who emigrate out of desperation, often times making the huge sacrifice of risking abuse by their new employers abroad, and coping with the heartache of leaving their beloved children or family members behind for so long, labeling them as obvious criminals, undeserving of dignity and insensitively rounding them up for deportation is cold. You don’t throw out to the fierce dogs a wounded cat you have found in your backyard. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful nor do you have to take into your house, but at least you can realise it needs some kind of protection and it hopes there is some way you can help. The circumstances that force many into immigration are like ‘fierce dogs’ and we may need to tread lightly when tackling the case of immigration.

Is it unfair to for natural citizens of a country to compete for the same jobs with immigrants (legal or not)? Yes and no. Yes because the children of the house have more rights to the benefits of their home than visitors, adopted children or neighbors. No because we live in a world that largely preaches equal employment opportunities and the protection of human rights in a highly globalised world towards making all countries everywhere into one village. Immigrants can be blamed for bribing their way into lucrative jobs and politics but that’s is not what we are told, that is not what happens. Immigrants (a good number) will most likely end up doing low paying jobs, working some extreme hours, and usually not in the best conditions. 

Yes, some do end up in gangs but so do natural citizens. Can anyone boldly claim that the jails and rehabilitation centres of ‘concerned countries’ like the USA have only or a large percent of immigrants as offenders? No.

On one end, complaining about law-abiding, hardworking, and tax-paying paying immigrants saying that the USA belongs to Americans and that these and those in other parts of the world should go back to their homes, does sound very immature. Think of how many American foreign expatriates live and work in other countries especially Africa. Consider how they may get employed without proper qualifications.

Or the many who do not want to go back to the US and the UK and all those other countries even when it’s suspected they might be ‘here’ illegally.

Now if everyone should start saying their country belongs to them only then perhaps all emigrants and foreigners everywhere should return to their countries. But still, this can’t or rather shouldn’t happen because there’s a good number of emigrants and others in similar situations that do a lot to positively boost a country’s economic and social-cultural status. These emigrants honestly pay taxes in some way, they pay for services and make purchases daily that contribute to the revenue of the ‘host’ country. They sometimes do the unpleasant jobs that need to get done but not by comfortable natural citizens who might sometimes despise such work.

In the same American telenovela the main couple (Carlos Martinez and Adela Morales) fight to defend their love as they cannot legally get married because both have undocumented immigrant status. The maid servants are sometimes cruelly treated by the insensitive boss’ wife who constantly takes advantage of their illegal stay that she threatens them with it if they attempt to report the abuse each time. The world may be full of refugees and we in our selfishness do not want them to share our resources but do we ever stop to think that these people once lived normal lives, had good accommodation and that they didn’t ask for the wars that ended up forcing them into a pathetic state? Do we stop to think of how easily even we can end up seeking refuge in other countries and if this happened, how would we want to be treated?

Should ‘illegal’ and other status labels really warrant a decent human being from being granted basic human rights and freedoms like being married, raising their children, or attending school?

There indeed must be controls, measures, guidelines to how much we can permit certain things but we can try to reasonably accommodate the unfortunate realities of other people without seeming inhumane in enforcing oppressive ‘rules’ whose motives may sometimes be questionable.

*****

Email:  adeadasolutions@gmail.com

*****

Advertisements