Friday, August 12, 2011

Security for Migrants

Living here is a real eye opener.  There are issues that we are learning about and sometimes it is hard to know where to stand.  We attended a forum this week on Security for Migrants.  It was put on by the Institute for Study and Dissemination on Migration.  INEDIM They are working to build a policy and advocacy agenda in Central America regarding migration and security.



What made this a new line of thinking for us is that it was stated more than once how the US is focused on controlling and criminalizing migrants which makes them vulnerable.  This group wants the focus to be on the understanding that the primary responsibility of countries in Central America is to guarantee the security of every human being by protecting their options and by giving them the opportunity to be free.  It was stated that people have the right to migrate or to stay in their country of origin.  She went on to discuss the inequities, the precarious labor conditions and the uncertainty and insecurities that migrants face here in Central America regarding housing, health care and education.  It was a lot to take in.

Having lived in California for 17 years we had more than one occasion to vote on issues regarding migrants or, as they are called in the US, illegal immigrants.  In California it was an issue of who had the rights to services or who didn't have the rights to services.  Here it is not so cut and dried.  We are talking about people.  Poor people trying to make a better life for themselves.  Some who are made migrants through trafficking.  Some who cut their way through the bush between Belize and Guatemala then built houses and began providing for their families.  We have been told that after living here for five years you can become a citizen.

As we sort out our beliefs and where we stand on all of these issues we are still faced with what to do and who to help or who to support. One of the churches we are working at has been actively involved with helping the children of migrants by providing tutoring to get them ready to start the school year.  Our women's group took up a collection of canned goods to help feed one of the poorest families.

It was thought-provoking to hear the arguments for protecting the migrants and the condemnation of the US for criminalizing them.  I think we were the only North Americans sitting in that conference room.  It was hard not to feel defensive or protective of the US stance.  I was also confronted with this...are we only here to serve those who are legal citizens of Belize?  Or are we here to serve whomever God places in our path?

6 comments:

  1. It's interesting how the same issues can be so different in different cultures....

    Thought provoking.
    Thanks for the reminder to pray for the lost, hurting and exploited.

    Meredith
    My Journey to Authenticity

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  2. It is interesting, Meredith...and it just reminds me that God created us not only as unique individuals and that affects our nations as well.

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  3. Very interesting post indeed. I struggle a lot with the immigration situation in the US because my husband is an immigrant and we went through a long expensive and extremely frustrating process to get him here and keep him legal.

    I think this issue is the same as anything: love the sinner not the sin :).

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  4. Cora, thanks for the reminder about loving the sinner...that is how we feel as well about the situation here in Belize.

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  5. I can see where this situation put you between a rock and a hard place. You will follow your right path.
    Manzanita@Wannabuyaduck

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  6. Manzanita,
    Thank you!

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