Deportation or Dignity?

Nejoud Al Yagout – — Photo by Djinane Alsuwayeh

The threat of deportation seems to be a lingering ghost, haunting foreigners from the millisecond they step foot into this country. It strips each visitor of dignity, constantly reminding him or her that taking one step away from local tradition and dogma can cost them their home and profession.

Some have it worse than others. Years ago, they stopped all nationals from one particular country from entering for a few months, because a pimp and drug dealer happened to be passport holders from that country. Obviously, a crime is a crime, and is punishable by law, but why is it that all citizens of the country had to pay the price by not being allowed into the country because a couple were deported? Not a coincidence that citizens of that country were already placed in the lower tier of the ‘respect hierarchy’, an imaginary pyramid (quite contagious, mind you) that has been conditioned into the minds of both locals and foreigners.

The threat of deportation also applies to less serious violations. In November of 2017, the Director of the General Public Relations warned expatriates that any repeated traffic violation, including not wearing a seat-belt or talking on a cell phone while driving, would result in deportation. And, if a traffic violation is not a shocking enough reason to impose a forced exile on someone, according to a Human Rights Watch report published merely a year ago, “[m]igrant workers remain vulnerable to … deportation for minor infractions including … “absconding” from an employer.” (https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/kuwait). This is perhaps the most disturbing reason, because it puts the lives of domestic workers at risk if the law will not protect them from running away from a possibly dangerous or abusive situation. Nobody absconds from a home if they are treated well. Nobody. Plain and simple.

But even those in the higher echelons of the mentally constructed foreign scale are always tiptoeing around us, as though waiting for a green light to be able to discuss ideologies critically or come out of the closet or complain about the injustice and discrimination. It’s a terrible disposition to find oneself in, especially when people leave their homes in search of a better life here. And it’s embarrassing, if not tragic, to witness this as a local and not have the power to change it.

Any time we make our lives better at the expense of other nationalities, we create imbalance, we create resentment, we create the seeds in which racism thrives. We create all the recipes for an ailing, chaotic community. But the beauty of it all is that at any moment, we can reverse these effects and build bridges to bring us all together. What is the legacy we want to leave?
We can see coexistence manifested when we strive to create a society that raises the quality of life for all: Kuwaitis, non-Kuwaitis, the stateless, Muslims, non-Muslims, males, females and everyone in between. Viva l’amore!

by Nejoud Al-Yagout
local@kuwaittimes.com

This article was published on 06/09/2018