Few other issues in the last decade have so stirred our social and political passions as has migration. In 2017, economic and political upheaval, the unprecedented effects of climate change, violence and war displaced more people than the population of the United Kingdom. Still millions more left home in search of opportunity, safety or stability. Arriving on the doorsteps of some of the world’s wealthiest countries, many found themselves stripped of human agency, threatened, banned, detained, caged, deported, separated from their families, or left stranded in the ocean or on the other side of the border.
Whether across international borders, across countries or across town, the mass movement of people from one part of the world to another is rooted in a history of privilege, discrimination and xenophobia. And comprehending the root causes of migration requires a global history lesson—an understanding of the impact foreign policies and actions by the U.S. and other world powers have had on generations of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. So much migration is, in fact, a result of economic pressures exerted by global forces, climate change, and foreign policy rooted in systemic discrimination, xenophobia, and in the case of many Western cultures, White dominance, sometimes through outright intervention in the migrants’ home countries.
But policy solutions have failed to materialize. Political gridlock in the U.S. and a rise of right-wing nationalism and cultural demonization on a global scale continue to thwart any meaningful, humane response, making traditional immigration pathways seem ever-further out of reach.
In the absence of this systemic support, then, how are immigrants working together to meet each other’s immediate needs, while also modeling just systems that prioritize people’s well-being and human rights? Can immigrant-led organizing illuminate a path that others can follow, starting from a place of shared experience, common language, and deep understanding of the nuances that factor into any person’s decisions to leave their home—or stay?
For the Summer 2020 issue, YES! Magazine is seeking deeply reported stories that shine a spotlight on myriad solutions here in the U.S. and around the world where immigrants, migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers are building on an age-old ethos in organizing: “nothing about us, without us.”
Whether they are organizing for the benefit of new arrivals, providing necessary support for those in their home countries, or challenging the institutions designed to exclude or incarcerate them, immigrants have turned to one another to facilitate their own survival, resulting in some of the most meaningful, effective change movements in recent years.
Rather than focusing on policy or White saviorism, our issue will focus on grassroots activism and organizing and principles of systems change being led by immigrants, for immigrants. This framing makes explicit the failures of policymakers to meaningfully address the root causes of forced migration and the broken procedures of the immigration system. And it spotlights the strengths, ingenuity, and collective power of people who know how to best address the needs of their communities.
All of the stories we seek will be examples of excellent journalism and storytelling: stories that have compelling characters, are well-researched, and demonstrate struggle and resolution. Journalists who are members of immigrant communities are especially encouraged to submit pitches. Send your pitches to [email protected] by Feb. 10, 2020.