This is a post about immigration from an obstetric point of view.
I’ve seen (and delivered) a number of 1st generation immigrants over the past several weeks, and come to understand the immigration debate from a totally new point of view: governments, laws, and artificial borders versus the human spirit.
I have no idea if these women I saw were here legally or not–I know that any woman in active labor must be cared for by EMTALA law, but most of the women I saw had some degree of previous prenatal care, even if it was late. I probably used to know the policy and laws of insurance and everything, but my brain had to delete those to make room for the plethora of OB-Gyn facts I’ve been cramming in there recently.
I was most amazed by a woman at 39 weeks who arrived in this country 7 weeks ago from El Salvador. That means at 32 weeks of pregnancy, less than 2 months from delivering, she somehow got here, speaking little to no English. I wanted to ask her how she arrived–plane? boat? bus? pickup truck? walking?–but she was a little too ready to push, we were a little too busy, my Spanish is a little too poor, and it’s really none of my business.
I wondered what would drive these women to take such risks, even if they were here legally–move here while they were gigantically pregnant, picking up and leaving their families, support systems, jobs, houses, clothing, speaking almost no English–and it’s the human spirit and the maternal instinct. It’s the same thing that all of us want for our children and loved ones: a safe, solid place to grow up with access to education, health care, and jobs. It’s done out of love.
So many of our fairy tales, movies, and stories focus on this theme that I find it interesting there’s often such vitriol and hatred in the immigration debate. We love stories where the individual wins, love triumphs, often against all odds, but somehow, these immigrants, who seem to want the same things we all want–are different.
I guess the point of this post is that we can
spend waste as much money as we want on borders and laws and regulations and security cameras, but the human spirit is so dedicated–exponentially so when you throw in the maternal instinct–that it seems like we’re almost trying to stop the inevitable.
If we want to prevent people from other countries from coming to ours to make a better life (and most of us “Americans” ended up here because our immigrant ancestors felt the same way), maybe money would be better spent trying to help other countries to better their own citizens’ lives.
(I’m well aware that the immigration debate is a hot topic and incredibly complex; I do not claim to be a scholar on the subject, just one man with a perspective I don’t often hear in the debate.)