How The Butterfly Symbolizes Immigrants

How The Butterfly Symbolizes Immigrants

Migration is a natural journey.
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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.

Cover Image Credit: Mike B

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18 Bible Verses That Prove God Would NOT Be 'Pro-Life'

Stop using the Bible as an excuse to take away women's rights.

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"Abortion is WRONG because God (the highest authority) says so! Not because I say so, or "religious" people say so or the government says so...because the CREATOR OF ALL HUMAN LIFE SAYS SO."

This argument is bullshit and I'm sick of hearing it, because it just isn't true. All these Christians claim that the Bible and God says that abortion is wrong, and it's clear they've never read the Bible. Have you ever seen them use a biblical verse to validate their claims? Yeah, me neither. And you know why? BECAUSE THE BIBLE IS NOT PRO-LIFE. They pick and choose vague verses to attempt to back up these ridiculous claims, completely ignoring the damning evidence that the Bible, and therefore God, actually supports child murder, infanticide, and abortion.

Unlike pro-lifers, I'll actually provide some evidence:

1. Numbers 31:17 "Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him"

2. Deuteronomy 2:34 "And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain"

3. Deuteronomy 28:53 "And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the seige, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee"

4. 1 Samuel 15:3 "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass"

5. Isaiah 13:16 "Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished"

6. Isaiah 13:18 "Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes shall not spare children"

7. Ezekiel 9:6 "Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house"

8. Hosea 9:14 "Give them, O Lord: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts"

9. Hosea 13:16 "Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up"

10. 2 Kings 2:24 "And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them"

11. Psalm 137:9 "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones"

12. Numbers 5:21 "-here the priest is to put the woman under his curse- "may the Lord cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell"

13. Hosea 9:16 "Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb"

14. Psalm 135:8 "He it was who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and of beast;"

15. Psalm 136:10 "-to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt His love endures forever"

16. 2 Kings 6:28-29 "And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow.So we boiled by son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son"

17. Leviticus 26:29 "And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat"

18. Jeremiah 11:22 "Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine:"


Stop using your religion to try and push propoganda that "God says abortion is wrong because it kills innocent children." Clearly your God doesn't care about killing children. There is more than enough proof that the Bible and God are NOT pro-life. Stop acting like you're good Christians upholding the values of God when you clearly haven't picked up the Bible and actually read it. God doesn't agree with your backwards thinking. Maybe try do your research before spewing your religious bullshit to try and take away women's rights.

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When Words Are Not Enough

Sometimes you just need to be.

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Life is a roller-coaster of ups and downs. We all desire easy fruitful lives where no one ever dies and no one ever leaves. Instead, we suffer through hardships and great trials that test our faith. These conflicts often leave us worn down and feeling helpless. This is the time when words become a languid breeze, going through one ear and out the other. This is what you should do when words are not enough to satiate the pain you hold in trembling hands.

Focus all your energy into just being. No one expects you to get over the tragedy that occurred in your life, so don't force yourself. Just eat, breathe, and sleep until you feel up to doing normal tasks. Whatever circumstance that has stolen your breath and turned your life upside down won't go a week in a couple of days or a week. Wounds like yours don't go away instantly; instead, they take time and nurturing. Sometimes it's best to keep a sore covered but in some circumstances, know that seeing someone is okay.

These tragedies you face are real, and they try to break down the very substances that make you who you are. Counselors and therapists can help you make sense of the burden you carry. There are many reasons why you might be hesitant to see a therapist, but if the burden you carry becomes too much, a therapist can help you lighten that load.

Know that what you are going through is real and it is tough, but you will make it out on top. You are a survivor and a success story. Every single bad thing that has tried to tear you down hasn't succeeded, and this will be no different. Trust me, your story is not over.

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