How The Butterfly Symbolizes Immigrants
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

How The Butterfly Symbolizes Immigrants

Migration is a natural journey.

15184
How The Butterfly Symbolizes Immigrants
Mike B

Most of us who see a butterfly just think we are looking at a deep-orange insect having black and white markings. For others like myself, however, its wings means freedom and its purpose is a representation of who we are. But who is "we"?

According to the Pew Research Center, there are 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. since 2015. With the recent uprising of the immigration topic, whether it's pro or anti, the monarch butterfly has made its way as an immigration rights movement symbol to humanize the undocumented individuals living in the United States.

One day this summer I was scrolling through my Instagram feed. I noticed a picture of a monarch butterfly with pro-immigration remarks coming from Undocumedia, an immigrant and human rights page I follow. I didn't pay too much attention to it. In September, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that allowed some individuals who entered the country as minors unauthorized to receive work authorization while protecting them from deportation, it flooded my Instagram feed.

I became curious on its true meaning and googled it. The answers I glimpsed through online were positively surprising. I ran into a Huffington's Post’s report of a documentary called "Migration is Beautiful" by artist and activist Favianna Rodriguez in partnership with Pharell Williams' I Am Other YouTube Channel. The three-part episodes focus on activism by undocumented individuals who traveled on the Undocumented Bus to protest in Arizona in 2012 for more appropriate immigration laws; as well as through the cooperation of street artists, filmmakers, and others who use art as a way to impact and create a national dialogue.

The campaign Migration is Beautiful doesn't just have a motive that represents immigrants but also a symbolic logo; the monarch butterfly. According to an interview between Open Borders, a website dedicated to making cases for open borders, and Rodriguez, she said the butterfly symbol wasn't her idea but of immigrant rights groups; "To me, the monarch butterfly represents the dignity and resilience of migrants and the right that all living beings have to move freely,” she said.


In reality ”tens of millions of monarch butterflies migrate up to 3,000 miles from the Northeastern US and Canada down to their wintering grounds in Central Mexico to escape the frosts of winter,” according to the webpage Good Nature Travel, The same idea, Rodriguez says it’s about migrant workers who travel seasonally to the United States, as well as undocumented immigrants who left their native countries for reasons only they can explain. Rodriguez is also the Executive Director and co-founder of CultureStrike, a national network activist and artists website who advocate for social change where according to them, “the Migration is Beautiful butterfly is a perfect example of how art intervenes playfully and politically. “

The nation doesn’t seem to understand that people flee their home countries because they have to. It would be easy if things got better just by moving to a different state. But the reality is that the country has failed those who needed to get out.

The monarch butterfly represents me, a DACA recipient, my undocumented parents who have been trying to become permanent residents for more than 14 years, my uncles who pay taxes and own their businesses, my neighbors who are hardworking people and many others whose stories and struggles we don’t appreciate and many times don’t care to recognize.

When I hear stories of how people have crossed the border--especially as wetbacks, traveling for days, weeks and even months; the hairs on my arms stand up. I was lucky. I had it easy.

An individual I met told me her story once. She crossed the border twice at the age of 21 to reunite with her mother. The first time she traveled with her little sister and got caught and deported alone. Her sister was a minor and was allowed to stay. The second time she made it but not without experiencing moments that sound life-changing. She saw human bones, walked for days without stopping, ran out of water and was dehydrated, drugged herself to numb the pain in her legs, saw snakes and cried after an old man fractured his hip while climbing a fence and had to be left behind. She was scared of being raped, hid under water and near cactuses, and had to control the tremendous fear of dying, and worse, of getting caught by immigration patrol again. All for two weeks. Without stopping.

She’s a friendly and gracious young woman that if you ever saw her, you would never think she experienced that. Her father, who owned a deli, was robbed and killed by thugs for his bicycle and some money, although rumors said it was also connected to a man from the neighborhood that envied him, she said. She was forced to flee Guatemala in fear of being killed too.

It’s real. People would do anything to come to the United States, and in many cases, it’s giving up their life or being permanently marked by gruesome life-changing incidents in their journey to have a chance at the American dream.

The topic of enforcing the immigration system has been on the top news as the presence of Donald Trump’s voice took over. Now that he’s president, the thoughts of fear were sown into many undocumented immigrants, while others saw the chance to defend themselves and speak up. The presence of the monarch butterfly, as featured in Rodriguez’s project, was present at the Democratic National Convention in September of 2012 but also recently, in September at DACA protests held all around the country after the announcement of its termination.

The monarch butterfly’s migrating purpose has been taken and modified to represent the diaspora across the world, but specifically in the United States. You don’t see the butterflies wings being cut off because of a natural journey. So why cut ours? A butterfly deserves to be free.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Featured

The Boyfriends Of The 2000s

Thank you, J14, for the Posters

1591
J14 magazine

Every girl remembers her first crush. Even if your first crush was the boy in your kindergarten class that ate crayons, your first true love will always be the one that holds the key to your heart. Growing up in the 2000s, everyone knew who your dream guy was. Your family probably still give you grief and your best friends probably still reminisce, so it is impossible to forget your first celebrity crush. You bought a Tiger Beat magazine every chance you could just to read up about what your favorite celebrity was doing. Your room was fully decorated with posters of them, and it wasn't unusual to have fights with your best friends over who was going to marry him. If you were a 90's baby, lucky you because the 2000s were full of boys that were easy to love. I hope you enjoy a walk down memory lane and quickly realize that Bieber was definitely not the first guy with that hair cut. Here are 15 90's baby's first boyfriends.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

20 Things I Learned By The Start of My 20s

No one expects you to have your life together by the time you're 20, because honestly, they didn't either.

13385
Allyson Foutty

We are all often faced with many life challenges throughout the time leading up to our 20s. Before this time, and throughout it, we often look back at the things we've learned and how they've influenced who we are as people today. Some of my biggest influences were some of the challenges I've faced, but they've taught me 20 important things by the start of my 20s.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

The Boyfriend Recipe

The ingredients to build a relationship are a little more complicated than just a bouquet of flowers and a box of candy.

11014

Relationships. Long distance or not, significant others are much more than just that. I would be lying if I said I did not love the sweet gestures that only a boyfriend can give. The flowers, funny phone calls, hand holding, breakfast dates, and tight hugs are special but my relationship and many others out there exist on much more than just these little gestures. It is a tricky concoction that consists of one part boyfriend and two parts best friend and would not work without one part or the other. While having a relationship may not be quite as easy as baking a batch of cookies, it has its own recipe (with a few variations for flavor) to follow for a good match.

Keep Reading... Show less
google images

Fashion just keeps growing and changing and old trends are made new! Now, I'm no beauty guru, just a beauty guru wannabe, but personally I have compiled some stylish wardrobe must haves! These can be cute assets to go back to school or just to catch up on some of the latest trends...

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

There's More To A Relationship Than Netflix

Summertime is only 93 days of the year, Find something to do!

10121
Tallie Ammar

Summertime is ideal for more than just hanging out and binging your favorite TV series with your friends. Although summer does bring rain and thunderstorms which is perfect for those binging days, take advantage of those nice and sunny days. There is so many opportunities to get out of the house and enjoy the season before the snow starts to come back. Here are 25 interesting dates that are doable almost anywhere for any age.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments