Across the Americas, social responses have proliferated alongside control measures and restrictions to migrants’ rights. During the pandemic, mobile people have not ceased to fight for their survival. For example, irregularized migrants detained in Laval, Canada, and throughout the United States began hunger strikes. In Mexico, migrants in detention centers protest for their release. Detainees are fighting for their lives as overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in detention pose a vital risk to their livelihoods during the pandemic. Irregularized Central American migrants have demanded the National Human Rights Commission in Mexico for their protection. In South America, Venezuelan, Peruvian, and Bolivian migrants in various national spaces have set up camps in border areas and/or outside their consulates to demand attention and help for their safe return. Irregularized Venezuelan migrant workers have also protested in different cities demanding protection during the pandemic.
Solidarity networks have been strengthened and reinforced. They are woven between various grassroots organizations, migrant associations, the church, international agencies (UNHCR, IOM, Red Cross, etc.), and with ordinary citizens as they operate throughout the continent to provide support for the migrant population. Most of these networks are focused on offering food, medication, and shelter. They promoted multiple public actions, money collections, signatures, petitions, declarations, and even legal suits. The binational articulation between organizations in the United States and Mexico is a notable transnational action that must be highlighted. Similarly, other networks have carried out information campaigns about the pandemic in an effort to educate community members as in the case of the Kichwa Cañari organization (indigenous migrants from Ecuador) in the United States who produced health information material about the pandemic in Quichua. Today, solidarity networks fight to extend rights for all migrants and asylum seekers.
However, while solidarity networks proliferate across the Americas, forms of social xenophobia are also multiplying. For example, public aggressions or home evictions of Venezuelan people in the Andean region have been recorded, despite the express prohibition by governments.
The virtual talk will discuss the historical and political importance of social responses in the context of the pandemic. We will analyze different types of social responses in the Americas, and the role of the migrant struggle and solidarity networks as forms of social contestation as migrants fight for social justice. We cannot avoid a necessary debate on xenophobia in times of pandemic. Currently, we need to radically question the xenophobic outbreaks that have proliferated in our continent as a way to procure the awareness and disrupt of the naturalization of this form of violence.