Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images
A few weeks ago, 53 people were found in a trailer at the entrance to the United States through Texas. They did not achieve the objective of working to earn in dollars, send money to their family and try to have a more peaceful life in economic terms. Unfortunately, death met them halfway.
Now, in his place of origin, his relatives will not receive the benefit of his work; worse still, they will have to deal with the pain of the tragedy that took the life of their son, daughter, wife, husband, father or mother.
The sad thing is that today, in the United States, millions of Latinos, many of them migrants and children of migrants who did manage to cross the border, have a job, many have learned the language and have more or less settled into American society as citizens. But they have stopped fighting.
When I say that they stopped fighting, I mean that they do not vote, that other aspect of American life that would complete the picture of a full life in this country, especially since it is about the exercise of a right. We do not realize that by not participating in the elections, we are simply leaving the way open for other people or groups that may have intentions adverse to those of the Latino community. If we don’t participate, whether we want to or not, we end up being victims of many draconian laws that do great harm to our families, to migrants and to people who have not yet arrived in this country, but whose need to achieve a better life is so great, They don’t mind risking their lives.
We have not finished learning that in the United States our voice is our vote, regardless of what we think about the legality of elections; the fewer people participate, the easier it is to manipulate an election. For example, last June 7 there were elections in California and only 15% of the six million Latinos registered to vote participated.
We are talking about the fact that more than five million of the six million Latinos decided to ignore an election in which the mayor’s office, one of the most important positions in Los Angeles, was at stake. And then we complain about the politicians who don’t work for the people, but the day we had to raise our voice we didn’t.
We must understand that the American system is structured so that the corporations that finance the campaigns of politicians win. That is why, in most cases, officials end up paying more attention to corporations than to their voters. In the end, what the corporations want is your indifference and apathy in the electoral process; that way, they won’t have to commit fraud because you cancel your voice and your vote.
Due to our lack of participation, we have had laws such as 187 in California, with which the children of immigrants were practically denied any health and educational service, in addition to prohibiting immigrant families from receiving any public service. Or laws like Arizona’s SB1070, which criminalized immigrants, asked the population to denounce people without documents and punished people who gave them lodging or work.
Let’s not forget that the fact of crossing the border without documents is already a crime, and if a person is arrested again by the authorities, the fine and jail are inevitable, as if trying to get to a place to ask for work were in itself a crime. All these measures and others just as harmful were approved because many of us decided not to vote and let another small group with extremist ideas do their bidding.
That’s why I say we don’t deserve to be Americans, because once we make it to this country and even become citizens, we stop fighting. And we stop fighting because we still don’t know the importance of voting and we decided not to participate without knowing how much we affect ourselves, our families and migrants like the 53 found dead in Texas a few weeks ago.
*Agustín Durán is Metro editor of La Opinion, Los Angeles.