When I hear someone talking about immigrants as if they were a threat to our safety, this image often comes to my mind.
I took the picture a year ago, during the Back to School Jam at Ingalls Harbor, where many low-income families have the chance to get free backpacks full of school supplies for their children. When I got to the main tent, Maria Tista was filling out forms so her children would qualify to receive the backpacks.
This woman reminds me of my late mother. We were also immigrants, within the same country, but still immigrants. In the early '70s, we left the underdeveloped and impoverished south of Spain to look for greener pastures in the industrialized and rich north. I know that my parents uprooted themselves from their land in order to give my siblings and me a better future.
I’m sure that if we had had events like the Back to School Jam my mother would have been there, like Maria, trying to get stuff for us.
Back then in Spain, as is the case here, some people also looked down on us immigrants and called us names. They were also afraid we were going to steal their jobs. In reality, immigrants took the jobs that no one else wanted and, with hard work, they not only bettered themselves, but also contributed to the north of Spain getting even richer.
When I look at these children’s beautiful, big eyes, I just can’t understand how anyone would consider them a threat.
About the series: Behind the Lens is a photo column that explores the thoughts and mechanics behind images of the community taken by Decatur Daily photojournalists. These photos resonate with the photographer, either through the story behind the shot or the image itself.
About the photographer: Jeronimo Nisa, who is originally from Spain, has been a photojournalist with The Decatur Daily since 2008. He earned a master’s degree in photojournalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He previously worked in Italy and South Africa.