Migratory Mourning

May 29, 2012

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" 

––From the poem by Emma Lazarus inscribed on the Statue of Liberty

Have you ever attended a party, meeting or another gathering and felt like an intruder that doesn't quite belong? Have you ever been in a situation where others exclude you from the conversation, dismiss your ideas or whisper about you behind your back? Maybe you've been the new student at school, the new neighbor on the block, or the new guy at a job and you've hoped to be accepted and to fit in. If so, you can probably relate to some of the anguish that immigrants in the United States experience every day.

An interesting article published in World News discusses the "migratory mourning" symptoms of immigrants to the United States and their poor state of mental health due to their uncertain circumstances and ill-treatment.

Dr. Manuel Carballo, executive director of the International Center for Migration, Health and Development and a former professor of clinical public health at Columbia University said that immigrant psychosocial ills arises from "feelings of loss and separation after leaving their family, culture and social environment."

Dr. Carballo points out that immigrants to the Unites States are needed, but are not wanted. They are treated as labor units rather than people. Indeed they are the subject of hatred and scorn by their neighbors, right-wing talk radio hosts and xenophobic politicians. Immigrants to the United States are no longer welcomed, appreciated or respected. They face racism and prejudices, often find themselves the scapegoats for the country's problems, and many become targets of abusers and scammers. It is not surprising that so many feel frustration, disappointment and depression.

Dr. Carbello stated that on any given day 70% of the immigrants that his institute has interviewed declared that they "want to cry." From the article:
On the whole, immigrants everywhere want to contribute to and feel part of host societies, he said.

Instead, due to migratory mourning and feeling unwanted, they often experience chronic long-term and debilitating depression and remain marginalized from mainstream society, Carballo said. . .

. . ."What is it that they want to cry about? They want to cry about the fact that they're neither at home nor wanted and respected in the countries they've moved to," he told UPI.
The words of Emma Lazarus mock the immigrants that struggle in the United States today.


Gerry said...

Great post! Important information! The Web site of Maria Elena Ferrer, who is quoted in the UPI story you mention, has more info about migratory mourning at www.humanamente.org.