In Paris’s 18th arrondissement, an undocumented migrant worker waded into a crowd of people transfixed on the scene above: a four-year-old child dangling from the balcony of a building on rue Marx Dormoy.
Within seconds, 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama had scaled four stories of the building and retrieved the child with one hand – a feat of seemingly superhuman strength – to cheers from the crowd below.
— Hannah Jane Parkinson (@ladyhaja) May 27, 2018
“I did it because it was a child,” he said, according to Le Parisien. “I climbed. … Thank God I saved him.”
The child was allegedly unattended and had ventured onto the balcony before getting stuck on the railing.
Gassama, who is originally from Mali, had arrived in France in 2017 after spending several years in Italy. He has struggled to find work and is considered only an “economic migrant” in France.
The heroism holds special significance in today’s world given Trump’s continued attempts to normalize the dehumanization of immigrants. With reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the United States are willfully separating migrant children from their parents and have even lost nearly 1,500 children, the scene in France comes in stark contrast to that of the United States.
Notwithstanding the fact that immigrants have been a driving force for growth, innovation and entrepreneurship, a boon for social services and an important component of “soft power” for the United States, they are also human beings, a fact that, among so many others, has been lost on a president desperate to pander to his tribalistic base.
While Trump tries to save his dismal approval ratings, immigrants are continuing to show the world that they are important members of society. And in Paris, the fact that one lucky child is still alive is proof.