The Foam

There was a similar situation in Ukraine for over 20 years. Ukrainians, especially from my Eastern part of the country, would go to Russia as illegal immigrants, to work for a pittance with no worker protections, live in horrible conditions, and send money back home. I have cousins and an aunt who did that. 

Then the war started and this practice was tamped down a bit. And now Ukraine is finally developing an economy of its own. People start tiny businesses. There is actual manufacturing. There is a lot of artisanal work. The tourist industry is getting a shot at existing because there is now an actual hospitality sector. Things are so so SO far from perfect but at least now young people in Ukraine aren’t all hopeless and looking to the future of being an illegal maid in Moscow as the pinnacle of achievement.

The point I’m making is that maybe it’s not necessary to take the approach of “we moved 30% of all Salvadorans here and it didn’t work. So let’s move 30% more and see if that goes better.” Or maybe it is. Maybe there’s truly no hope for El Salvador or Haiti. Twenty years ago I was convinced there was no hope for Ukraine, and I was wrong. 

What I hope, though, is that we could have a discussion. Is it really the best idea to dismiss whole regions as completely hopeless and just move people out of there for good? Is there really nothing better for countries like El Salvador? When will be the time to stop foaming at the mouth and start discussing this? Do people really think that posting pictures of Auschwitz on social media is somehow helping Haitians? 

I’m waiting for the foam to recede and for normal, meaningful conversations to start.  


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