It was midnight on when Aylan’s father quietly entered the small room and woke him up to start getting him dressed. The little boy, not even three years old, noticed that his father was a little nervous. It was with good reason, as it was the first time that his family would undertake a long journey.
Aylan, despite the nervous atmosphere, was somewhat excited about the trip. His father had told him about the sea and the wonderful place on the other side of the shore.
It was three o’clock in the morning when they started getting on the boat. Aylan noticed the silence as people gradually filled the boat.
The boat set out to sea in the darkness. The waves rocked the families. Aylan grabbed his father’s arm while watching his mother hug his brother, who was one year older than he was.
Suddenly the sea lashed out against the boat and after a futile struggle that lasted for several minutes, the boat capsized, to the horror of everyone on board.
Aylan’s father tried to save his children and his wife, but it was all in vain. The morning came and revealed a tragic scene– 11 Syrian immigrants who tried to emigrate to Turkey had died, and Aylan’s father was the lone survivor.
The image of the small boy’s lifeless body lying on the beach traveled around the world and has become a symbol of the immeasurable human cost of migration.
Four years later, the tragic scene was repeated, but closer to home. On , Mexican authorities found the lifeless bodies of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 2-year-old daughter, Valeria, on the banks of the Rio Grande, a few kilometers from the Brownsville-Matamoros International Bridge that connects Matamoros, Mexico with Brownsville, Texas. The family from El Salvador had arrived at the United States border, where they requested asylum. However, they were sent to Mexico while their case was being processed. After several months of waiting without a response, the immigrant, in an act of desperation, unsuccessfully tried to cross the border.
For Amnesty International, the deaths of the girl and her father reflect the failed immigration policies of the presidents of the United States and Mexico.
Immigration is a controversial issue if viewed from a political perspective. But this social phenomenon is part of the development of humanity itself. It has always existed and will always exist. And unfortunately, there will also always be those who oppose the arrival of immigrants.
Whether they are Venezuelans escaping political and economic persecution, Central Americans fleeing armed groups and gangs, Mexicans leaving behind the extortion of drug traffickers, Syrians escaping war, or Somalians seeking to escape misery, as long as there are parents who want to give their children a better future, there will be immigration.
Industrialized nations, where immigrants generally go, are plagued by politicians who use voters’ fear and ignorance to close the doors on immigrants. This strategy will continue to work as long as there are prejudices.
We cannot turn our backs on this problem. We cannot reduce human suffering of thousands of victims to simple figures and statistics. If we remain indifferent, painfully, other children like Aylan and Valeria will appear on the beaches of the Mediterranean or on the banks of the Rio Grande.