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Migration to the US, far away from the American dream

Refugees welcome but journey is difficult
Refugee Crisis

All around the US, you can hear, read, or listen to stories of first-generation immigrants who have fled from their homes because of a prolonged economic crisis, natural disasters due to global warming, a lack of water, political persecution, scarce employment opportunities, a lack of decent life conditions, criminality or insecurity, among other reasons, from the so-called Global South.

However, only very small percent of these immigrants had the chance (passport) and luxury (visa) to come to the US via airplane. The majority must travel for months, are exposed to different kinds of human rights violations and trafficking, especially among young women who pay "vacunas" known as tolls to illegal armed groups or the police for the whole journey to their dream destination. This crossing is not easy as many have to survive the jungle and crossing the Darien, to reach the US. This dangerous journey, full of trafficking networks and violence, is undertaken by the majority of immigrants and refugees who travel from Latin American, African, and Asian countries.

Just so we can have a better understanding of the magnitude of this issue, the Human-Rights-Watch states:

In 2022, arrivals jumped to almost 250,000 people. That number was surpassed in just the first eight months of 2023, and more than 500,000 people are on pace to cross by the end of this year.

In response, governments on both sides of the border have agreed to address migration through the Darien in recent months.

Article: How the Treacherous Darien Gap became a Migration Crossroads of the Americas, by Juan Pappier, published Oct. 10, 2023.

With this perspective in mind, I want to share Laira's (pseudonym name) story with you – a narrative that echoes the experiences of countless individuals striving for a better life. Born and raised in Venezuela, Laira harbored a singular dream: to grace international stages with the melodies of her violin, a passion she nurtured while performing with the prestigious National Venezuelan Orchestra in Caracas.

However, Laira's aspirations were abruptly eclipsed by Venezuela's political and economic crisis. As violence overfilled her city and opportunities dwindled, Laira, like so many others, found herself suddenly unemployed and facing the harsh realities of survival. With each passing day, the prospect of a secure and prosperous future in her homeland grew increasingly elusive, overshadowed by pervasive insecurity and rapid inflation.

Faced with reality, Laira and her husband made the courageous decision to embark on a new chapter of their lives. Their journey to the United States, though face with a level of uncertainty, bore the invaluable advantage of passports and a valid tourist visa, allowing them to travel by air rather than endure the perilous routes undertaken by countless migrants and refugees through Darien.

I vividly recall my initial encounter with Laira in the US—a serene yet visibly fatigued presence. As we became friends, I understood her tiredness since her daily routine was starting at 3.30 a.m., waking up her two-year-old son to give him breakfast, and while he fell asleep again, driving him to the babysitter—because her husband hadn’t gotten back from his night shifts yet and her shift starts at 5 a.m. A vicious cycle of pre-dawn awakenings, childcare responsibilities, and laborious warehouse shifts (since the warehouse was the only place where they accepted her with no knowledge of English).

However, despite the exhaustion and emotional strain Laira faces each day, she refuses to let her circumstances define her. Instead, she embraced her passion for music and seized the opportunity to pursue her dream. With the support of her husband and fueled by her determination, Laira bought a violin and joined the orchestra as a volunteer in the city she lives in.

She is not living the full American dream quite yet and despite the challenges that await her at dawn, Laira finds solace in the melodies she creates, knowing that each note brings her peace and pleasure in her new life.

Through her resilience and unwavering commitment, Laira embodies the spirit of perseverance and hope. Despite the obstacles she faces, she refuses to let go of her dreams, inspiring those around her with her unwavering determination.

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