In these times, let’s not forget migrant rights advocates

These are trying times for many of us. It can be difficult to find hope as we continue to live through the challenges and uncertainties of our realities. It seems we were going from one crisis to another, and for some, it is a crisis on top of another. In Mexico, just looking in the area that I work in, we have seen worsening conditions for migrants and persons in need of international protection, confronting inhumane walls that continue to be fortified- the physical ones (borders walls), human ones (contention practices by immigration authorities and national guard) and the bureaucratic ones (inability for people to begin their asylum procedures or access any public services).

We had a humanitarian crisis before the COVID-19 pandemic and as we are in the middle of adjusting to a “new normalcy”, we can already see it is harder for people in mobility to rebuild their lives in such an unfavorable scenario. You know whom I also see tired and in despair? Migrant rights advocates. Day in and day out, they work in precarious conditions and sacrifice their wellbeing to fill in the humanitarian gaps that our governments (national and local) have been unable (or negligent) to address.

I’m not in the frontlines as many of my friends are, working in migrant shelters and organizations that provide direct services. It is tough work, particularly when there is a lack of capacity and resources to respond to a growing need. The political pressure from the U.S. under the Trump administration for Mexico to contain migrant flows has meant that migrants, asylum-seekers and other displaced persons have been forced to stay in a country that (as I have know for over a decade) has lacked mechanisms to receive and integrate its own deported nationals. U.S. elections are around the corner and people hope that a change in the administration could help alleviate this situation for migrants and displaced persons in Mexico. I’m not holding my breath on that one as we also know that on migration, the tendency has been to contain it. But maybe reversing some of the harmful policies that limit access to asylum in the U.S. (including the Migrant Protection Protocols) could help move us in that direction.

What I do know is that my friends and colleagues working in NGOs that aid migrants and displaced persons do this work in constant burnout and with no sign that this is going to get better anytime soon. How often do we think of them as they carry out such important work in times of pandemic? Many of them have lost loves ones to the COVID-19 pandemic, and others are also fighting for their own lives.

This past Friday a friend sent me a GoFundMe fundraiser for a mutual colleague (Sire) who lives in Tijuana. I was unaware that she has been battling a life threatening condition and that because of the pandemic, she is unable to receive the care she needs from the public health system. I can also attest to the difficulty in receiving regular and specialized care as my dad was recently hospitalized after a heart attack. If you are dying, you are not getting care, and when you do, it can be too late. (My dad is now stable and we are awaiting for his surgery to be scheduled).

Sire is the co-founder of one Casa Arcoiris where she coordinated the medical, mental health, legal, social and housing services for over 150 LGBTQIA+ migrants seeking asylum in Tijuana. I had the pleasure of meeting with her last year in an NGO network and I always appreciated her insights and fight to ensure those spaces were inclusive in all respects. Through her, I also had an opportunity to see first hand the services provided by Casa Arcoiris and it is truly amazing and much needed. Her dedication and passion for protecting LGBTQIA+ has been so evident to me. Now, she is the one in need of help so that she has fighting chance for recovery. I hope you can join me in supporting her to meet her fundraising goal.

For information, check out the Surgery 4 Sire, Tijuana LGBTQIA Shelter Co-Founder campaign.

Credit: Surgery 4 Sire, Tijuana LGBTQIA Shelter Co-Founder GoFundMe Campaign

Sire, we send you much love and wishes for quick and full recovery.

Mundo Citizen resumes

I had not realized how much I missed writing until I began drafting this post. A year ago when I had decided to put this blog to rest, I was certain that I was ready to find other avenues for expression, but life took its course and I had to place writing on the back burner. Work has been all consuming and it kept me busy navigating diplomatic and political spaces where I had limited avenues for expression (at least my honest feelings and opinions about the state of migration in Mexico). Maybe that is part of the reason that now feel compelled to come back to this small concern of virtual space to let myself just be.

Also, looking at my most recent post, I realized I was also feed up with things. I had accumulated grievances along this post-deportation journey and was unclear on what to do with this blog. Also, just the thought of investing limited time to plan and create content became a deterrent. Taking a break was probably a good decision at the moment as I was also dealing with many changes. I will admit that during the last year there were times where I thought –This would be something interesting to write about in Mundo Citizen. But it was easier to plan on just keeping this blog an archive of the first decade after deportation. And so time passed by and well, here we are a year later.

But I came to admit to myself that this craft is something I want to continue to work on, and maybe there is a way to resolve all the issues that led me to take a break. Maybe writing can be more than just ramblings and frustrations on the post-deportation fight and struggle. I won’t know unless I try. Putting myself in the shoes of a reader that has come to this blog with a genuine interest in knowing about the life of a deportee, I would ask – What are the aspirations of a person that has rebuilt her life after all this time? What are the lessons learned of this journey she has taken? What’s next for her? I certainly wished I knew the answers to all these questions; perhaps with intentional introspection and more writing, I might arrive at this answers with newfound joy and inspiration.

Hope to see you in the next blog post.

The end signals a new beginning

After 7 years of blogging*, I am deciding to give Mundo Citizen a rest. It has been a good run, sometimes sprinting with many long pauses in between. Much has come to pass since my first post with a copy of the letter I addressed to the Obama administration or that blog series where I narrated my own story of detention and deportation.

This past September 1, 2019 marked the end of my 10-year US-reentry ban (Just look at that counter to the right). And although I still have many other hurdles to overcome to be able to legally return to the US (including a permission to reapply for admission in addition to the normal visa), there will come a point where I will engage in that process. It is just crazy to think that 10 years later, legal migration has not been facilitated and yet, we are asked to try our best against all odds. This is the reason why I consciously made a decision to wait until I was ready to deal with this. I don’t want to be emotionally nor financially drained because of it and I am in no rush to return. It will happen in due time.

The road one day I’ll be able to take. Tijuana, Baja California. 2019 (C) Mundo Citizen

10 years after deportation does feel like a new phase in my life, which entails giving closure to this current one. The healing process I have engaged in the past months (including therapy) has allowed to give myself permission (the good kind) to let go of things that have been grounded in my deportation trauma. This blog is one fo them. I will miss it, and the identity I had created around it. Mundo (World) Citizen is an uplifting concept and when I initially picked it as a name for this blog was because I knew it could transcend a story of deportation. And it a way it will. Although this blog ends, I will continue to find platforms for expression through writing, I just do not want it to be in a platform where my voice is not given its due credit. My not-so-great experiences with other activists, civil society organizations, and academics (both in Mexico and the U.S.) where my story and content gets used without proper acknowledge (or permission) has made me wiser in searching for other ways to create and contribute to dialogue without feeling used, exploited or becoming a subject to the extractivism of lazy & opportunist people and institutions who can’t do their own work to contribute to the migrant rights conversation (it’s time to do it on my terms).

You need a migrant story/expert POV for your scholarly article? Invite me to collaborate, don’t just ask me for an interview, focus group or to give you access to other deportees (do your own field work as I do my own!). You need a testimonio for your next journalistic piece? Tell me how your article is going to tell migrant stories in a dignified way rather than just being vehicle to your next story deadline. Also, don’t ask me to retell my deportation story I have told too many times because I’m done with that (hint: this is what closure looks like). And I am likely to decline to participate in documentaries or other migration projects where I don’t have a say in its direction or it is not done collaboratively (I also mean compensation).

I’m done being a passive subject and being used by others to give your work credibility when it lacks it in substance and rigor. I rather create my own content and even if it doesn’t have the same resources and reach as other platforms, at least I can be assured that I take control of how my story and my work is shared. This is reminder that my story is my own. Reclaiming it is part of what I will be prioritizing in my post-ban phase.

Even when I’m redefining how I would like my story to take shape in the public sphere, I also would like to acknowledge that others writing my story has served its purpose. But now it is time I write my own. When I first I started blogging, I thought maybe it would lead me to write a published memoir. That hasn’t happened yet and it is an indication to start doing the necessary work to make that a reality. Blogging has been a good training ground, but I will need to be more diligent about developing in this craft. It is certainly a personal project I will work on at some point. Also, in it’s due time. There is still a life to live that is worth writing about, because I’m more than a deportee. I am a Citizen of the World still transcending boundaries with much more to say and experience.

For the time being, this blog will remain online and hopefully I can curated it to serve more as an archive and for followers and visitors to be able to find content I have previously published. I will also add links to other pages where people can stay posted on projects and research/advocacy work I’ll continue to be working on. It won’t be the last time you hear from me (**smiley wink**).

*My initial post mentioned that I had 5 years of blogging. I created this blog on October 8th, 2012, which means I have been at this for 7 years.