Being an undocumented immigrant in the United States is not easy. Here are just a few things that go through an young immigrant-person’s mind:
Not knowing what to do, who to tell,or who to ask for help are difficult emotions to deal with. What may be even more scary for them is making sure that they don’t tell the wrong person.
Immigrant youth feel like they are alone, when in reality they are not. They just don’t know who else is in the same position. Sometimes, just discussing illegal immigrants is taboo.
In school, children see them differently as if they were aliens for not knowing our language, not dressing the same, and not having the same values as us. Being a young person is already hard enough. Imagine the difficulty of adapting to a new culture and trying to learn and hold new language. They feel out of place. Then when they start getting adapted to this new place that has become their new home, they realize that their not from here, they don’t have the same freedom as a citizen does. They are forced to live in fear and struggle, without help, to succeed and be someone in life.
They don’t only fear deportation, they also fear discrimination. These young people are made to feel unsafe in places where safety matters the most. There was a girl in my elementary school that use to say she wish she could go back to her native country because she could not take it. The kids in her class would make her feel uncomfortable and worthless. They would laugh at her and make fun of the way she speaks. They made her miserable everyday with the name-calling and bullying. The girl felt out of place, unwanted and lonely in the classroom where everyone knew each other and were friends.
Imagine the effect this has on the young girl. She may have internalized some of the derogatory things said to her. Young people are at a stage of intense development and self-exploration. They should not be put down this like because they may look like an immigrant. They need support, confidence in themselves, a sense of community, and Atlas can provide that.