Should refugees 'prove their worth' to be accepted into host countries?
We all came across this story: In May 2018, the 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama became a 'hero' by saving a child from falling out of a balcony on a fourth floor. The young man climbs up hand over hand until he reaches the child, then he carefully lifts it over the railing back to the apartment. A witness's video of these heroic events went viral on social media. The man is called 'Spiderman' and 'hero.' He gets an award from the state for 'courage and self-sacrifice, and the French president Emmanuel Macron invites him to the Élysée-Palace. Shortly after this happened, he got French citizenship by naturalization, confirmed by the president himself.
This is the story of a man saving a child and becoming a national hero. It is the story of a refugee saving a child and becoming a hero. Mahmoud Gassama is a refugee from Mali. At the point of the depicted events, he is living in France without a residence permit. Only due to his action and the world's reaction has he legally been granted life in France. Only because of his referred to as heroic behavior, did French society directly integrate him and give him an official permit of residence. If these events had not occurred, Gassama would have been waiting for a long time until getting the possibility to live legally in France if he would not be rejected at all.
It is not a rarity that refugees must 'prove their worth' as an individual for the society of the country they search for protection from. The better a refugee's education, the better the chances of being granted asylum. The more additional and exceptional features and engagement, the warmer the welcome. A particular belief in refugees' worthiness probably unifies all European countries’ attitudes towards them. And especially regarding refugees and their integration, one specific worth is measured, e.g., by actions and certificates – which can determine the refugees' lives.
All refugees are worthy of claiming asylum and seeking safety. All refugees matter. All refugees are equal.