How a Budding Economist Became an Advocate for the Human Rights of Migrants
I had not seen a great number of economists focused on the migration situation, so why not do it myself?
Spain, Southern Europe
When you think of an economist, you might envision a person wearing a suit working on bank investments, or someone keeping the financial accounts of a company. This is not a wrong perspective, but it is not my case. I became determined to focus professionally on the human rights of migrants in May 2015 when - along with the rest of the world - I witnessed over 4000 immigrants in need to be rescued within 48 hours on the coast of southern Italy. The lack of political motivation to guarantee immigrants’ human rights became obvious when two months later, the Citizen Security Law effectively made “hot returns”  legal in my country, Spain. Similar policies were being executed in other European countries. As months went by, the tension in the Mediterranean corridor increased and so did hate speech. The Mediterranean became the deadliest migration route in the world.
When I found out about the different political mechanisms that states were using to avoid facing the migration issue, I was deeply outraged. I felt as if the world was differentiating between first and second class human beings. At the time, I thought: why are the great economic powers allowed to appropriate the resources of developing countries while criminalizing the mobility of people from said countries?
I had not seen a great number of economists focused on the migration situation, so why not do it myself? During my college years in Spain, I realized that the academic system was distancing social science from economic science which, in my mind, made no sense because they are empirically related. Economics to me is not just about unemployment and interest rates, it is also about how to guarantee the welfare state.
My mission is to make use of my academic background in Economics in the service of the human rights of migrants. In 2019, I had the amazing opportunity to study “Refugees, Realities and Rights” at universities in the Netherlands involved in sustainability and social equality research, where I met people from different nationalities with incredibly enriching ideas. I found it encouraging to participate in debates in class with a large group of young people about such a sensitive and complicated topic. We found within this program the perfect space to share our concerns on the migration critical situation.
I realized the importance of facilitating environments for young people to debate and address current issues. We must leave no one behind to achieve a broader vision by gathering as many perspectives as possible in order to define common policies. Moreover, today’s society has a vital role of raising public awareness to stop hate speech. Moved by this motivation, I participated in events as a volunteer in the Spanish Commission of Refugee Aid, giving lectures in schools about the migration situation to raise awareness and fight misinformation. The youngest participants showed great concern for the topic which was truly comforting to me.
I am convinced that we need to give more importance to the social side of the economy that is responsible for covering current needs, ensuring equal opportunities and human dignity. As a society, we have the responsibility to restore the integrity and dignity of immigrants. Guaranteeing human rights is not an option, it is a duty.
How does this story make you feel?
Do you have any questions after reading this story? Do you want to follow-up on what you've just read? Get in touch with our team to learn more! Send an email to [email protected].
Talk about this Story
Please enable cookies to view the comments powered by Disqus.
Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter
Stay up to date with new stories on Correspondents of the World by subscribing to our monthly newsletter:
An Alien From the Same Planet
A story by Veronica Burgstaller
4 min English Audio available
It has to be remembered that through all these moving places, I stayed the same person, I had my Austrian passport, I was half Austrian and half Indonesian: yet in Indonesia, I may have been an expat, in England an immigrant, in Korea - a constant struggle to become somewhat included. It is clear that the power as to who I am is not in my hands. Read more...
A story by Y-Danair Niehrah
4 min English Audio available
Dialogue with Refugees in Norway
A story by Lene Mortensen
Explore other Topics
At Correspondents of the World, we want to contribute to a better understanding of one another in a world that seems to get smaller by the day - but somehow neglects to bring people closer together as well. We think that one of the most frequent reasons for misunderstanding and unnecessarily heated debates is that we don't really understand how each of us is affected differently by global issues.
Our aim is to change that with every personal story we share.
Correspondents of the World is not just this website, but also a great community of people from all over the world. While face-to-face meetings are difficult at the moment, our Facebook Community Group is THE place to be to meet other people invested in Correspondents of the World. We are currently running a series of online-tea talks to get to know each other better.