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Immigration is one of the most paramount and notable issues in America today. As a child of immigration, I’m all too familiar with how overlooked individual immigrants, their children, and their families really are, even when granted asylum like my father, my brother, and myself. 

My story starts as a six-year-old fleeing Haiti, forced to leave our mother behind, one of the most painful days of my life. She wouldn’t make it to America for another six years, leaving my brother and I to be raised by our father—though as children we were allowed the opportunity to visit our mother in Haiti during the summers. None of us spoke English and my father’s Haitian degrees and business acumen didn’t give him any standing in America; he started over with two small children, not speaking the language or having any resources. 

As difficult as my story sounds, we made it. We had a social worker who helped us when it was sorely needed, and my dad often worked three jobs while he re-acquired his degrees. Additionally, we relied on the help of other Haitian family members and friends of friends. With great difficulty, many sorrows, and often no idea what the right decision was, our family overcame many obstacles. 

However, this isn’t the case for many immigrants, especially ones who are denied legal status in the United States. It is also not the case for the countless number of refugees at the borders waiting for a chance. These refugees often don’t get the privilege of having a social worker who can help them navigate obstacles, such as where to send their children to school or where to find access to speech therapy for a child like myself who had a speech impediment. 

Undocumented immigrants may face difficult mental health challenges which stem from the trauma of leaving their homes and trying to adopt new cultures. Additionally, immigrants who experience hereditary challenges such as autism or schizophrenia typically have less access to helpful resources. To a degree, public schools help enrolled children, but even the schools have limited capacities and are incredibly overwhelmed as it stands.

Immigrating was one of the most difficult yet worthwhile things my family has ever done. Despite the hardships we experienced, as a proud citizen of the United States, I want to encourage others to immigrate. As a community, I want Americans to strive to find ways to make the experience easier, especially for families fleeing horrible situations. I encourage individuals from all backgrounds to advocate for immigrants so that they may have increased access to resources such as mental health care. It is imperative for us to come together as a community to lift each other up with support and care.

 

Useful Resources:

The Coalition for Immigrant Mental Health

https://ourcimh.org/

This resource is a research informed initiative that collaborates with immigrants and mental health practitioners regardless of status. They provide advocacy, research & data, and education & outreach.

 

Black Mental Wellness

https://www.blackmentalwellness.com/

This organization provides evidenced based resources from the black perspective. They hope to decrease the stigma of black mental health and promote diversity among mental health professionals.

 

Informed Immigrant

https://www.informedimmigrant.com/resources/undocumented-students/

This resource tab provides information and guidance for undocumented students. Whether you are in kindergarten or graduate school, this resource provides information needed for success. It contains frequently asked questions, scholarship lists, and other important information.

 

Child Welfare Information Gateway

https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/diverse-populations/immigration/resources-refugee/

This resource contains information, resources, and tools connecting children to support. This support includes help with cultural, language, or societal pressures. It explains the rights of children, guidance to raising a child in a new country, and support services available. 

 

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights 

https://nnirr.org/

This resource strives to expand  the rights of refugees and immigrants. It has been established for more than 35 years. They promote equality and justice as well as providing insight that is essential to securing health, safety, and peace.


Comments

5
  • Andre

    Andre Andre

    Reply Author

    This is a very thought provoking and emotional article. Even as someone who leans conservative it is difficult to not be drawn in to the plight of those who need better access to mental health. Whether or not someone is here legally, no one deserves to be tormented by their own minds. Thank you for sharing such a profound part of your experience.

    Posted on

  • Mark

    Mark Mark

    Reply Author

    Your emotional well-being and mental health will be significantly impacted by moving abroad. You should take care of your body and do some exercise; doing so reduces stress and has many other positive effects on your health.

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