Undocumented students stay on the path towards their dreams even if they have to accept criticism from non-undocumented people. The fear of being deported or being criticized, or even the lack of economic resources are some of the struggles undocumented youth have to go through. For some it can make them not want to finish high school. They may also hear they are not allowed to go to college.
A study by an organization called Human Impact Partners found out that the fear of deportation takes a mental and physical toll on undocumented immigrants’ children. When the time comes to go to school, they don't feel like going because they're afraid of being deported or that when they come back they will not see their parents again if their parents were deported while they were gone.
I experienced similar issues. When I first came to the U.S. I was working with my brothers. They didn’t agree with my decision to start high school. I felt disappointed because their support was very important. Although I didn’t have the support of my family, I decided to try it. I was very nervous because I didn’t know anyone, I couldn’t speak English, and the society was very different from the one I was used to living. I felt that I didn’t belong there when the other students looked at me strangely. That day was one of the most difficult days of my life. I couldn’t communicate with others and I didn’t know how to get to classes. When I finished the first day, I realized that it would be a difficult obstacle to overcome, but in the end it would be worth it. Luckily, I was assigned an ESL teacher at school and she was dedicated to helping me learn English. Finally, exams came, and I felt anxious, but with effort and dedication, I passed all my exams.
Every person in this country is able to go to school for a K-12 education without worrying about their legal status, according to the Supreme Court decision Plyler v. Doe from 1982. They are also protected by the policy* that does not allow immigration agents to get access to their personal information, or enter the school, without a warrant. Many superintendents say their major priority is to keep undocumented children in school and let them engage in learning. There are organizations that stand with immigrants and help them with their school. So even though it sounds hard to believe it’s true, there are organizations out there that help immigrants get their education done.
Don’t ever give up! School is hard for a lot of reasons, but fear should not be a reason not to go.
*USCIS has a “sensitive locations” policy that includes schools on the places where agents are not supposed to enter without a criminal warrant. A policy means that its an administrative rule, so it can change without passing a law or going to court.
Change Lives: Increase Confidence and Knowledge (CLICK) is a group of Adelante members who want to help other people in the same situation as them.