EDITORIAL NOTE UNITED WE MULTIPLY OURSELVES BY SOL DE MEDIANOCHE
These are uncertain times for immigrants in the United States. New regulations affecting us appear almost everyday, while hate crimes are reported in increasing frequency. In such an environment, organizations and individuals who want to help immigrants arise seemingly out of nowhere. But not all of them thoroughly understand the legal and personal complexities of immigration, nor do they all consider the consequences that their actions may cause for immigrant communities. So before accepting help with immigration issues, think on the following: 1) Diversity is not a snapshot in which the faces of different minorities are seen. Neither is it about meeting racial and gender quotas. An organization that cares about immigrants will seek to understand not only your concerns, but also those of your family and of your community. 2) Those who best understand the problems of immigrants are immigrants themselves. An organization that truly wishes to help immigrants does not seek to solve our problems without asking us, or without consulting experts. Legal matters, for instance, require the assistance of an attorney; health issues need to be discussed with doctors. 3) Different communes of immigrants come to the United States under very different circumstances. Although we share some concerns, it is important to acknowledge our needs. 4) In practice, diversity is a complex exercise of meeting other people, recognizing their differences, then accepting and embracing them. It sounds simple, but some organizations that may seek to help immigrants hold rigid positions about what people should be and do. This ends up becoming a lost battle for diversity. If in a group you are not allowed to think freely, or express your ideas, it is because you are not in an environment of respect and diversity. 5) To work for immigrants responsibly is to understand that we are not a political prize, and to know that talking about diversity should not serve to cleanse the conscience or feed the ego.
6) Building a healthy relationship with the other involves responsibility on both sides. This means that institutions must do their part, but that we must also take care. An organization that solves everything for you without involving you is doing the immense damage of not recognizing you as a responsible adult. In a moment of uncertainty such as this, it is up to immigrants to help each other to overcome the crisis. But it is important to act in a serious and responsible way, leaving aside our differences, taking care of ourselves and of the most vulnerable. We will be strong as long as we are together because, as the title of our last community meeting read, “united we multiply ourselves.”
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