Accusing migrant women of bringing ‘anchor babies’ to Europe misunderstands their journeys and motives, says researcher and anthropologist Sine Plambech. Understanding their real stories explains why so few are willing to return.
Just out of graduate school in Mexico City, Lissette Marquez longed to travel the world on an American cruise ship.
She was thrilled to obtain a guest-worker visa that allowed her to join a ship crew in California. But instead of the ideal job she had envisioned, Marquez said she found herself toiling long hours, earning less than a $4 hourly wage, and feeling isolated.
“No hate! No fear! Refugees are welcome here!” Shouts are rising into the night sky in Brooklyn as I write this. I just left the Brooklyn federal courthouse, where hundreds of people are chanting that and more, some slogans more angry and profane than others.
When there’s not an acute famine in the Horn of Africa, the media tends to leave the misery in that part of the world unreported. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard much about Ethiopia specifically in awhile, minus a few international journalist friends mentioning that there is a migration problem for women who are seeking better lives in the Arab peninsula. As of this morning though, I can’t pretend to ignore what’s going on in the region any longer.
The day my life changed I was 23 years old. I come from Ethiopia. I always loved writing, and as soon as I finished high school I started to work at a newspaper. In 2001, I was reporting a student demonstration. The police came and started shooting people.
Imagine living every day with the terror that, at any moment, you might be ripped apart from your family, your home, your job, your livelihood, your friends. Imagine feeling as though you have no choice but to risk all of this to report a case of rape or domestic violence. Such is the dilemma for countless immigrant women in the United States: Either suffer silently—often at the hands of husbands or family members—or go to the police and risk deportation.