While the US is awash in talk of impeachment (long overdue, in my opinion), Patricia and I are keeping very busy here in Mexico. Patricia is much in demand as a writer, speaker, panelist, and workshop presenter on immigration issues. Since she’s got a lot on her plate and she’s out of town a lot, I’ve happily settled into work as her research assistant, written English translator, house husband, and cat care specialist. Together we are doing our part to cultivate a culture of peace.
Indeed, though she’s modest and wouldn’t want me to overstate her influence, the fact is that Patricia has become a bit of a player in Mexican immigration circles. She truly is in demand. It’s a testament to her appeal that both migrants’ human rights defenders and police agencies—traditional “enemies,” given the police agencies’ bad reputation (all too often justified) for violating migrants’ human rights—want to work with her. She even has the ear of a member of the Mexican president’s communications team, though I can’t say that has led to any changes in his sadly anti-immigrant policies.
At any rate, she’s got a lot of work to do, and I’m taking some of the load off. Among her various projects, one that she’s been passionate about for years is self-care for migrants’ human rights defenders. These people work in dangerous conditions where their lives can be literally on the line, and they can easily be consumed with fear, frustration, and outrage in the face of a seemingly hopeless situation. So, Patricia does workshops teaching them how to take care of themselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually so they can do their work more effectively and avoid burnout.
Out of these workshops has come a manual Patricia wrote entitled Self-Care Manual for Migrants’ Human Rights Defenders. She also created a massive PowerPoint presentation for a program called “Self-Care in Working with Persons in Mobility [Migrants],” and that’s where my translation skills recently came in. She needed an English translation of the whole thing within a few days, and though she can do a passable one in a pinch, only I can make it look native. So, I pounded out a translation of a hundred PowerPoint slides in about three days. I’m a bit proud of that one. 🙂 Here are “before” and “after” versions of the title page:
Another recent project was an article Patricia was commissioned to write for a magazine published by an agency of the Veracruz state government. The magazine is called Culture of Peace and Human Rights, and the theme of their current issue is “Migration and Hospitality.” The article Patricia wrote on this theme is called “Immigration Policy and the Denial of Democratic Values,” and deals with the question of what immigration policy would look like if we really took seriously universal democratic values like freedom and equality that virtually all of us profess. The short answer: It would be a lot more humane, hospitable, and respectful of the human rights of our immigrant brothers and sisters than it is now.
This is where my research assistant role came in. I looked into sources of information on her topic, especially an excellent book by immigration expert Joseph Carens entitled The Ethics of Immigration. (Probably the best book I’ve read on the topic.) I suggested an outline and lines of argumentation. Patricia took my research and suggestions, threw them into the pot of her own research and reflections on the topic, and the result was a wonderful article that I’m proud to have played a small part in.
And just this Friday (October 4), she presented the new issue of the magazine at a forum both of us attended. The forum, put together by the Veracruz state government, was held in the seaside city of Coatzacoalcos.
The forum was entitled Migration in Veracruz: Hospitality and Rights. It was attended by government officials, migrants’ human rights defenders, and, I’m happy to say, a large contingent of police officers who really are seeking a better way. Veracruz is a hub of migration routes to the United States; it has has a large population of migrants coming, going, and passing through, as well as a large community of veracruzanos in the US. What can we do to treat all of these people with the hospitality and respect for their rights that they deserve?
Here’s a picture of the hotel where the forum occurred. The people who organize these things have a habit of picking nice places in seaside resort towns:
Patricia gave two talks. Here’s a picture of her doing the first talk (she’s at the podium), plus a picture of me taking a picture of her doing the first talk:
She even mentioned the part I played in researching her article. 🙂
After the first talk, she was swamped by reporters asking her questions—even one from Televisa, one of the major national networks, equivalent to ABC, NBC, or CBS in the US. (I told you she’s becoming a player!)
All and all, the forum went really well. People were working together with passion, dedication, and goodwill, in an earnest effort to make life better for those who are having an even more difficult journey than usual in these crazy times of deepening oppression, rejection, and xenophobia.
Patricia and I are very happy to be working together in this endeavor. We have always felt that, in the language of A Course in Miracles, we have a holy relationship with the joint special function of working miracles of love for our brothers and sisters in need. We are growing in solidarity and love we join together in this wonderful mission. Perhaps the spirit of the specific mission we’re engaged in now is best summed up in the concluding paragraph of her article. We are living in dark times…
But we also have resources to help us move in the right direction, which will lead us to a peaceful social coexistence. We can speak out against the imposition of severe immigration-containment policies, shine a light on the harmful consequences of such policies in people’s lives, and work to stop the advance of antidemocratic values and practices like xenophobia. We can also educate ourselves about and defend the rights of ourselves and others, making clear our refusal to condone the violation [by the authorities] of national and international laws. Finally, we can nurture an environment conducive to building a world in which each State roots its actions in fundamental values such as freedom and equality, ensures a favorable context for the free development of human beings, respects and celebrates differences, and makes sure that contentious differences are resolved precisely by appealing to these fundamental values. In such a world can flourish a culture of peace.
Well, time to get back to work. I’m back home, and as resident cat care specialist, I need to take Kiara to the vet tomorrow!