Youth Speak Out About the Mental Health Impacts of Immigration Policies, 1/30-2/6

8 Feb
Yanelli Hernandez

Yanelli Hernandez

By: Naomi Beyeler

This week marked the first annual Undocumented Youth Mental Health Day – called by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) to raise awareness about the mental health impacts of our immigration system. In selecting January 31 as Undocumented Mental Health Day, NIYA drew attention to the deportation case of 22-year old Yanelli Hernandez. Yanelli lived and attended school in the US since she was 13. Separated from her family and facing deportation, Yanelli twice attempted suicide while in detention. She was deported on February 1. While stories about Yanelli or Joaquin Luna only occasionally reach mainstream media, the fact is that undocumented youth face high rates of stress, anxiety and depression – often resulting from the insecurity and fear, family separation, limited educational and job opportunities, and discrimination that accompany our immigration and deportation system.

 Each year, it is estimated that 65,000 undocumented youth graduate from high school in the U.S. These students – who have a right to attend primary and secondary schools regardless of immigration status  – face an increasing number of legal barriers, and are often unable to receive college financial aid or find jobs. For undocumented students, graduating high school can be a moment not of celebration but of intense anxiety. In the face of discrimination, and with the threat of deportation, more undocumented youth are coming forward to speak out about their experiences and protest policies such as Secure Communities that contribute to high rates of depression in their communities. To honor Undocumented Youth Mental Health Day, we encourage you to listen to the voices of these youth, and to support the young people in your community, as well as policies that enable them the opportunity to contribute as full members of our society.

 In other news:

Alabama immigration crackdown costs state up to $11 billion: study, Reuters, 2-1-12 A new cost-benefit analysis has estimated that Alabama’s anti-immigration law costs the state $10.8 billion, due to the up to 80,000 jobs vacated by those who fled the state and lost sale and income tax revenue.

Kansas Seeks Waiver for Undocumented Workers to Solve Farm Crisis – Fox News Latino, 1.30.12 In hopes of solving a labor shortage, the state’s agriculture secretary plans to seek a federal waiver that would let dairies and feedlots in Kansas hire undocumented workers.

 Obama Campaign: GOP Rhetoric ‘Sealed Political Fate’ With Hispanics – ABC News A memo to reporters from campaign officials regarding the president’s GOP rivals reads: “Their extreme rhetoric on immigration during the televised debates has rejected our history as a nation of immigrants and alienated millions of Hispanic voters nationally.”

 DREAM Act passage could generate trillions for US Economy, NewsTaco, 1.31.2012: A study from researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles found that passage of the DREAM Act and inclusion of students in U.S. educational and professional institutions could generate between $1.4 and $3.6 trillion (current) dollars in the next 40 years, based on the amount of income these people could generate as professionals.


One Response to “Youth Speak Out About the Mental Health Impacts of Immigration Policies, 1/30-2/6”

  1. Momma G February 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Thank you for this post!

    Also, re: “Obama Campaign: GOP Rhetoric ‘Sealed Political Fate’ With Hispanics” — the Obama administration has deported more immigrants than Bush II and should look take a hard look in the mirror before it disingenuously tries to wave the banner of immigrants’ rights.

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