Lives on the line: undocumented latino youths


What’s makes the ethnic press different is that it is different. 

It talks to its community with news that otherwise might not get told.

Here’s a good example from Extra about passing along information that can change lives. 

Are there other stories like this? Please pass them along.

Steve@chicagoistheworld.org

U-Visa: An unknown answer to many seeking help 

by Nayeli Santoyo| trad. Víctor Flores

Maria copes with her challenges but they wear her down.

She struggles with being a 23-year-old single lesbian mother amid all the worries of being in the U.S. without legal papers. She has been a gang member, a survivor of multiples gunshots, and a user of alcohol and drugs.

“No, I’m not happy with my life,” she said. “I have migraines and my hair is falling off because I’m tired of this life.”

Maria, whose name has been changed, is just one of the thousands of adolescents in the U.S in this dilemma. They lack the availability to receive financial help for college, a state identification card or the possibility of a getting a decent paying job. Their predicament often affects their mental health.

Many cycle from one emotional crisis to another, tumbling along a trail that leads some also to suicide.

According to Roberto G. Gonzales, a social service expert from the University of Chicago, these young adults go “from protected to unprotected status, leaving them in a state of development limbo, preventing subsequent and important adult transitions.”

As he points out, these youths are prepared from kindergarten to 12th grade to do their best but they face limited options.

The Illinois DREAM Act makes Illinois the first state in the country to create a private scholarship fund for undocumented youth, according to the Illinois Youth Justice League, but brings little salvation to Maria.

“I don’t get a raise because my employer knows I ain’t gonna quit…can’t get child support because my baby’s daddy is undocumented or an illegal alien as they call us. And that why I’m stuck in the same hole,” she said. “And what hurts the most is to see people that have that one thing I don’t have.”

Maria suffered from domestic violence from the father of her daughter who, she said, is a gang member. She sought help, which she hoped would also change her immigration status.

“In order to qualify you need to be mistreated by a legal resident. Sucks to be me,” she said.

But Maria was wrong.

The fact is, there is a U-Visa for women in her situation. There are approximately 10,000 U-Visa’s given every year, giving men and women who have suffered from any crime, including domestic violence, a temporarily legal status and work authorization. Victims must also cooperate with law enforcement officials in the prosecution of their aggressors. After three years of being under the U-visa, the victims can apply for their residency.

“[The U-visa] benefits many immigrants who may be unwilling or fearful to come forward,” said Fred Tsao, an official with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR)

For more information about the U-visa; go to http://www.dhs.gov/files/resources/u-visa-law-enforcement-guide.shtm

source: Fox News



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