Civil and Political Participation as U.S. Born Central American living in Barcelona.

There are many factors that go into the civil and political participation of young migrants in their “Country of Destination.” It must be said that it is less about politicizing migrants because varying migratory statuses (irregular, resident, citizen) are politicized in themselves. The most common factor is education of civil rights as migrants. In Spain, autonomous communities have different levels of engagement and integration of migrants. For example, Catalunya provides social services to anyone that is registered or “emapadronadx” in the autonomous community. I did not know about my right to vote as an irregular migrant until the day after the last municipal elections in Barcelona. I lived in Andalucia for two years with a student visa but never received a social security number. Upon arriving in Barcelona with irregular status, I was able to get a social security card (which is necessary to find work in any field). 

Personally speaking, it is bittersweet to hear such terms as “civil” and “democratic” participation as having an irregular migratory status never took away my engagement in political topics.  I do not feel interested in being a spokesperson or an advocate for “social integration” and find myself involved in local community movements that I can have a direct understanding of. Not being a “citizen” doesn’t mean I don’t care about what is happening in the country I’m living in. I am redirecting my energy from doing the correct and necessary steps to legalize my residence and more so making sure I have the right to a dignified life. I’ve spent so much trying to prove that I could make a good citizen, just like many do. It can disconnect me from participating in genuine ways of care and interest in the country I am in.