Why I’m Here

Sorry for the hiatus just as I just was getting my blog started, my small but beloved readership! I actually wrote another post last week, but as I’m just getting the hang of this blog thing, the draft somehow wasn’t saved. I now know the Blogger Golden Rule: save your posts as offline documents! Hopefully this will go more smoothly from here on out. I determined that I looked like I was just having too much darn fun in my last post, so I’m going to talk a bit more about the academic side of my experience this time (which is also enjoyable to me, of course).

After spending two years in the “real world” as an outreach worker and paralegal at a legal aid office, I felt I was missing the “big picture.” I worked with migrant farmworkers from Mexico and Central America, many of whom had temporary worker visas, while others had no legal documents. The agricultural visa program seemed flawed, particularly with regards to worker protections. The workers were tied to a single employer, who also provided housing and transportation. Their lives were extremely controlled, and the working and living conditions were consistently substandard. Those who didn’t have documents were even more vulnerable to harsh treatment and low pay. I began asking myself: how did this system of agricultural labor come about? What were the alternatives? What did academics have to say about migrant labor, and immigration more generally?

I applied to the MSc in Migration, Mobility, and Development to learn more about global processes of migration, including other nations’ immigration policies, citizenship standards, and treatment of migrants. My primary goal was to learn how community organizations, governments, and migrants themselves address the difficulties that migrants face in host societies. I also wanted to learn more about refugees as a subset of migrants, and the interconnections between refugee and migration studies.

In the last few months, I have learned a great deal of what I hoped to, and I recognize how small my initial frame of reference was. The literature in migration studies is vast. I feel like even by the end of the year, I will have only just dipped my toe into the pool of knowledge that is out there. I have learned more about many different migration issues across the world. The immigration topic that most often comes up over here is migration across the Mediterranean, mostly from Africa into Southern Europe (as the point of arrival). Hundreds of people die each year attempting the trip. Recently, the UK controversially withdrew funding from rescue missions. The argument insists that sending boats to aid migrants would encourage them to cross, and rescinding this help will be a deterrent. This is in the wake of the Lampedusa tragedy of 2013, when 366 migrants drowned after their boat capsized. The fact is that most attempts to make migration more difficult (i.e. building walls, not rescuing migrants) does not lower immigration numbers, but simply ensures that the migrants’ journeys become more dangerous. Migrants are more likely to seek out smugglers or become trafficking victims, for example, but most still attempt to migrate.

To learn more about the Lampedusa tragedy, read the following article. Warning: it’s quite a graphic account of what happened:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/22/lampedusa-boat-tragedy-migrants-africa

When I finish my degree, I want to work in an organization that addresses the reasons the immigration is set up as it is, in addition to providing assistance to migrants and refugees. I hope you can see why.

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