Immigration is a touchy subject and a very controversial topic to discuss. We often disregard that the numbers we see on the news or even in the media, whether a billion or two, are human, people who want to better themselves, or those that will cross seas from their countries to, ironically, live another day. It is a human situation that needs to be addressed. Today, a substantial amount of individuals and ‘internet activists’ hide behind the comfort of their computer screens and believe that if an issue is not affecting them, then it does not matter. Many have the idea that simply sharing a post regarding a war or a video containing an unjust act of violence towards an innocent person is going to drastically change our society. Although, spreading the word is one step towards taking action, it is just not enough.
Everyone has their opinions on the benefits of social media and how they are often subjacent to the disadvantages, but not in this case. There are those that watch the crowd for change, but there are also those who are the crowd for change and those who are the crowd for change have created ways to help immigrants and refugees have safer travels when needing to leave their homeland. Whether you are for immigration or against it, you can not deny the ways in which social media has impacted the migrant community.
Let’s start by talking about immigration:
What is an immigrant?
+ An immigrant is an individual that comes to live permanently in a foreign country.
What is a refugee?
+ A refugee is a person forced out of their country in order to escape natural disaster, war, or persecution.
What is the difference between the two?
- Plan before they leave
- They have the option of returning home if they become homesick
- They can make deliberate and consciously planned decisions
- No planning before they leave
- They leave their country because they fear for their lives, they are internally displaced
- Forced to flee without warning
- environmental refugees – leave because of natural disasters
Even though immigrants and refugees clearly have a lot of similarities as well as differences, we should treat them as one; human. When coming over here, they face:
- Smuggling abuse: their smugglers take advantage of them, some families pay up to $1,000 per member just to leave their countries.
- Dangerous backroads: border patrol force, intentional killings, drowning, gangs/vigilante killings.
Young immigrants crossing the borders by themselves are being harassed and recruited by gang members, and if they choose to deny then they are murdered. In an article by TIME Magazine, the author talks about kids crossing the border into the U.S. to apply for asylum but how most of them do not make it because of harsh situations:
At the tender age of 15, she faced an interview to plead, essentially, for her life — to ask for refuge from violence so chilling her family thought it better to smuggle her to the United States in the spring of 2013.
“Two years ago a friend of mine died in a very cold-blooded way. She died cut to pieces. My best friend,” Maria said in Spanish, beginning to recount what she told a U.S. asylum officer.
As she recalled the story again, Maria’s soft voice trembled, and tears spilled down her cheeks.
She said police in El Salvador asked her to identify body parts pulled from a bag dumped in a river. She recognized a birthmark on her friend’s leg. She said she also witnessed a boy shot and dragged off, after a soccer game—a boy later found hanged. And before she fled, Maria said, she’d been asking her father, a U.S. truck driver, for more and more money so she could pay murderous MS-13 gangsters $60 a month to leave her alone.
“I was traumatized,” Maria sobbed. “I still am from seeing that body split apart. That dismembered head. Those arms. … As time went by, I didn’t want to go out, or eat, or do anything. The only thing I wanted to do was to die. I told myself that the same thing could happen to me.”
This evidence shows just how scared most of these children are and how many of them risk their lives in order to save their lives. Predicaments like these made some of us open our eyes to the problems going on in the world and thus, apps and social media platforms were created to benefit the lives of these immigrants/refugees.
This app informs immigrants of the wait times and best times to cross the border. It allows them to be alert of their surroundings and what to look for when coming over here. It is consistently updated.
This prepares immigrants for their citizenship tests so that when they come over here, they can began the process of becoming “legal”.
Last but not least, this app helps immigrants understand their rights. It is in spanish and english for those that become detained and do not know their rights.
In closing, it is sad that we have come to times like these where human beings are illegal citizens on earth but with these apps their travels are easier. It is time we treated everyone as equals again and continued to fight for human rights for everyone. Social media has completely stepped up the bar and is now beneficial to everyone, even internationally.