Now that we are in the middle of award season, I wonder what the Spanish words of the moment are. For many, one of them is “el miedo,” or fear.
“El miedo” is resonating loudly in circles of undocumented, and even documented, immigrants from many Spanish-speaking countries. The equivalent word in Arabic, Korean or Hindu, to give some examples, is just as present.
Their fear is a very real one. A fear not only of deportations to countries where sometimes food, shelter or safety are not guaranteed, but also a fear of violent and discriminatory arrests, the horror of being separated from one’s own children, who often are U.S.-born and, thus, citizens of this country–these are fears that seem unfathomable for most of us.
After hundreds of arrests and deportation proceedings all over the country in just a few weeks, many unauthorized workers are now avoiding some of their most common activities.
Opening the door at home, driving or even taking their children to school have become difficult tasks because of the potential risk of arrest and deportation. This situation is causing them to lose their most essential rights to dignity and security.
Even Amnesty International USA, the American branch of one of the most respected non-governmental organizations dedicated to protect human rights worldwide, has already acknowledged that the recent upsurge in immigration enforcement “raises grave human rights concerns.”
To be fair, many of the unauthorized migrants now placed under deportation proceedings fall under the same category as they did under previous administrations. Convicted felons who can present a threat to public safety are being deported, as they were under President Obama.
But deportation enforcement was greatly expanded with an executive order Jan. 25 that included anybody “suspected of committing criminal acts or being dishonest with immigration officials.”
Many immigration lawyers are expressing their concern over that definition, which leaves too much power in the hands of potentially arbitrary immigration agents.
The case of Guadalupe García shows the harm of this enforcement upsurge, and her story could frighten every immigrant community in this country.
She was recently deported to Mexico, leaving her children behind in Arizona, after she was considered a “criminal” for being caught working without legal authorization back in 2008.
Since that year, Guadalupe had been checking in periodically with immigration authorities, who did not consider her a “threat” until last week.
As alarming as this “miedo,” or fear, can be, there is another word in Spanish that represents the greatest hope for immigrants at this time. The word is “orgullo,” or pride in their heritage, and it will not be silenced with executive orders.
Rolling the “r” is optional but highly recommended.
Francisco Hernandez is a junior international studies major from Valencia, Spain.