Photo: Olesya Kuznetsova/Shutterstock

The Expat Dilemma

by Kate Sedgwick Oct 28, 2011
I don’t want to hear you whine about the what-ifs of your tourist visa renewal.

None of us know anyone who’s been kicked out of the country.

I don’t want to hear you say, “But they should be happy to have us here in their country spending our money.”

I don’t want to hear you use “Argentines” as the subject of one more sentence.

I don’t want you to expect me to commiserate with you as you generalize all the men or all the women and the games they play.

I don’t want to be a party to your fear, to be made complicit in your self pity about your jacked up rent and the taxi driver that gouged you.

If you’re being taken advantage of, there’s something you’re failing to learn.

I don’t want to be here and have you try to make me and you into an us to the them we’ve chosen to live amongst.

When people come to our country, they have far fewer rights than you enjoy here. You come here for pleasure, for a lifestyle. To your friends back home, this makes you interesting, but you’re here now and none of us are really impressed. You’re not superior to the people here. There is nothing they’re failing to get.

When people from here go to our country legally, they have to be interviewed. Their financial records are called into question. They have to prove they’ve got something here to come back to — a job, a family, a history. If I were held to that standard I wouldn’t be here now. Would you?

When people go to our country illegally, they are taking real risks. They aren’t crossing the border every few months to keep their tourist visas legal, making the inconvenience of being a relatively welcome long-term guest into a manufactured drama. When they’re there, they’re there for the long haul.

If you were to get arrested today and not be let out of jail, not be allowed to see a lawyer, it would be a national news story in your country. People would be championing your release. People would be campaigning for you.

When foreigners get locked up in your country, they have no rights. They could stay in jail for years. It doesn’t make the news, not there, not here, not anywhere. Illegal immigrants from Cuba can spend year after year in jail without a trial, without a lawyer, without assistance, and without rights.

I get it. We complain to relate. But I would really like to hear a little more about what it is you like because things could be so much worse.

The rights you have now outweigh the rights you don’t have, and the rights you’re missing are rights you’ve elected not to have.

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