OPINION: It’s The Least We Can Do
French President Emmanuel Macron has granted French citizenship to Mamoudou Gassama, a 22-year-old migrant from Mali who scaled four floors in mere seconds to rescue a child who was dangling from a fourth-story balcony last week.
The video footage of the rescue has gone viral across social media as well as the mainstream media, and Gassama is being called “Spider-Man” in recognition of his incredible feat.
But what about the rest of France’s migrants?
What about the people who struggle simply to bring food back to their families, who struggle simply to stay together — who struggle simply to stay alive?
What about the everyday heroes living in France who have yet to be awarded the citizenship they’ve waited and fought for?
This kind of exceptionalism when discussing immigrants, immigration policy, and refugees is incredibly damaging to the everyday people who desperately need and deserve recognition and support.
Today, nearly every individual who embarks on a journey of immigration faces tremendous danger, hardship, and sometimes even death.
Immigrant children face the same life-threatening danger that that French four-year-old experienced every single day.
On top of the danger, sacrifice, and suffering they endure to even reach their destination, they are then saddled with onerous requirements and processes to even apply for citizenship, asylum, or refugee status.
And even then, even if they are granted citizenship or permanent status, most of them will continue to face discrimination, harassment, and assault, as if everything they’d gone through weren’t enough for them to earn their place in a new society.
Immigrants should not have to commit daring acts of bravery and heroism to become citizens.
They are heroes already, and deserve to be recognized and treated as such.