Imagine a human being. A person, just like you. Now imagine that this person – for whatever reason – is illegal. Do you have a hard time imagining it? Me too.
Let’s check what illegality is all about: The definition of illegal is according to dictionary.com:
2. contrary to or forbidden by official rules or regulations.
Acts can be illegal. Like stealing. Or selling drugs, maybe. But people? As it seems they can be illegal as well, at least according to how our nation states work nowadays. The fact that we live in a unequal, globalized and war-driven world does not seem to count as a counter argument.
In the US, an estimate of 7-15 millions of people live without having the required paper to be citiziens with rights. In Germany the estimates are around 1 million. France only believes to have about 400,000 sans-papiers. Switzerland estimates round 90,000 people without documents. These numbers are nevertheless highly disputed because there is of course no census for people who live underground.
Read one story of a young Kenyan man in Berlin here.
Another amazing Dutch article and documentary tells the story of two illegals in The Netherlands. One of them decides to leave and go back to his country, Afghanistan, after 10 years of staying illegally in The Netherlands. He says: “I’m going because I have no hope and no confidence. I’d rather die there than continue living here like this”. The other story is about a young woman from Congo. She tries whatever she can to become a legal resident of The Netherlands, frightened of the alternative of having to go back to her country. Here is the link to see the documentary (in Dutch).
Photo courtesy of URBAN ARTefakte