Things That Matter

The Trump Administration’s Assault On The Undocumented Community Is Negatively Impacting People’s Mental Health

“I’d gone from being this really gregarious, social, extroverted person to not being able to go to the grocery store when there were other people around because I felt like I was having a heart attack,” undocumented immigrant Azul Uribe told USA Today about her experience of learning that she was undocumented at 22 years old. Uribe moved to the United States from México when she was 11 years old, proud to be a first-generation immigrant. It wasn’t until her 22nd birthday that her family told her they were all undocumented. For Uribe, that’s the moment that her mental health would change forever. Three years of immigration legal battles later, she voluntarily deported from the U.S. at 36 years old, taking a bus to a place that she hadn’t been to since she was a child.

Roughly 10 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. are subject to far higher rates of depression, anxiety, and trauma-related stress because of their status. It’s also their status that prevents them from accessing treatment.

While Trump hasn’t deported nearly as many immigrants as Obama, his administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has created a far more intense culture of fear.

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Obama’s administration did not advertise its hardline immigration stances or boast about ICE raids. Trump, however, has listed ongoing threats of ICE raids as promises to his base that have resulted in millions of undocumented immigrants becoming afraid to even grocery shop. A recent study by the Urban Institute shows that immigrant families that avoid routine activities for fear of ICE are three times more likely to experience psychological distress than immigrant families who don’t avoid those same daily routines. 

Researchers and psychologists are pointing to a chronic state of elevated fear response as responsible for the depression, anxiety and stress exacerbated in the undocumented community.

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Liliana Campos, 32, has become a permanent resident in the last year, but the 22 years of fear she felt prior still puts her on high alert when ICE raid rumors are spread. “It’s very alarming to be in a position to be in,” Campos told USA Today of her previous undocumented status. “Our fear response is activated every day for years. It has consequences.” Today, Campos is a P.h.D. student at the University of San Francisco working on a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. She also works for Immigrants Rising as the Mental Health Advocate and is creating an online service that will connect undocumented people with pro bono mental health workers.

Undocumented immigrants also lack access to health care, often needing to pay out of pocket for any kind of medical treatment.

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Gustavo Guerrero, 27, suffers from anxiety as a result of his undocumented status. Guerrero, originally from Honduras, swam across the Rio Grande when he was 12 years old. “It’s always in the back of your mind,” Guerrero told USA Today. “You’re driving, you’re working, you’re sleeping in your home, you’re picking up your kids from school, you’re constantly thinking about it.” Without health insurance, the only way he can treat his anxiety is by paying the full $150 per therapy session out of pocket, and he can only go once a month. 

Some families have been torn apart because mental healthcare access wasn’t available to treat severe mental illness.

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Garcia Mendoza, 23, has dedicated her life to helping the undocumented community cope with stress through holistic health practices like yoga and breathwork. She and her older brother moved to Albuquerque from México when she was 8 years old. Two years later, her brother began suffering from bipolar disorder. Without access to resources and fear of even searching for those resources, her parents felt like they had no choice but to send him back to México for treatment. Mendoza grew up in Albuquerque without her brother.

Mixed status families suffer as a family unit for fear of deportation as well.

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Undocumented immigrants move to the United States to create a new life for themselves. That life includes creating a family. The children of undocumented immigrants who carry U.S. citizenship grow up in fear of their parents being deported. Regardless of status, the rhetoric of President Trump has seeped into brown children’s heads. Cristian Solano-Córdova told USA Today that maintaining a positive sense of self is challenging, “especially when society is telling you that you’re, you know, evil, that you’re a criminal, that you’re a rapist.” 

The night Trump was elected, his eight-year-old sister asked him if she was going to be deported.

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Samantha Bee Sat Down With Four Undocumented People Who Once Worked For President Trump

Things That Matter

Samantha Bee Sat Down With Four Undocumented People Who Once Worked For President Trump

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee / YouTube

President Trump has made it a key part of his presidency to go after undocumented immigrants. He has used tactics to demonize them and uses fearmongering to make sure his base of supporters blame the undocumented community for their problems. Samantha Bee recently sat down with three undocumented people who were once employees of Trump and how they saw a change after his practices were exposed.

Samantha Bee started by asking them if they needed papers when they were first hired.

Credit: Full Frontal with Samanta Bee / YouTube

“When I got there I asked the supervisor, ‘Do we need papers here?’” one of the women recalled. “And she says, ‘No, no, it doesn’t matter. But in 2016, they started asking for documents. And then my manager told me, ‘This guy will take you somewhere where they make those papers.’”

That’s right. A former housekeeper for President Trump told Samantha Bee that she was not required to have papers are the start of her job but was eventually taken to get fake ones made.

Originally, the undocumented workers for Trump did think that things might get better for them when he was running to be president.

Credit: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee / YouTube

However, they quickly realized that he was going to do anything but help them if he won the race. Unfortunately, they were right. Trump has a documented record of attacking undocumented immigrants and has started taking aim at legal immigrants.

Within the company, things did change when Trump started his presidential campaign.

Credit: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee / YouTube

“When he started his campaign, from then on they didn’t let me go to his house,” one woman told Samantha Bee. “So, I would go into Ivanka’s house and sometimes Eric’s when he would visit.”

Yet, instead of firing people for being undocumented when he became the president, he gave them certificates.

Credit: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee / YouTube

The certificates were to show the employees how much Trump appreciated their hard work while working for him. They originally thought they were pretty cool because they are from the White House. Yet, it was not enough to combat the darkness to come.

It wasn’t long until there was abuse from the supervisors, according to one woman.

Credit: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee / YouTube

“The supervisor would assign me double shifts,” the first source said. “And she would tell me, ‘This is how we should treat immigrants’—and if we said anything, immigration would come. And when [Trump] called us ‘immigrant rapists,’ the supervisor would say, ‘Good, good, that’s nice because immigrants are no good. Garbage.’ … There were many insults, and she even hit me three times,” she alleged. “So I decided to speak out, because there was so much injustice.”

Watch the full interview below!

READ: Undocumented Employees Are Being Fired From Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Resort After Hiring Practices Were Exposed

A New Documentary Is Showing An Untold And Heartbreaking Side Of The Undocumented Life In The US

Entertainment

A New Documentary Is Showing An Untold And Heartbreaking Side Of The Undocumented Life In The US

imleavingnowdoc / Instagram

The recent immigration debate in the U.S. has largely centered around the forced separation of families at the southern border and indefinite detentions. However, “Ya Me Voy,” a documentary by Mu Media, is shining light on the internal immigration debate. The story centers on a man living undocumented in the U.S. and his decision to stay in the U.S. or leave and rejoin his family. However, unexpected love and troubles at home in Mexico play a major role in his decision.

“I’m Leaving Now (Ya Me Voy)” is a touching look at the personal immigration debate many undocumented immigrants in the U.S. face.

Credit: mumedia / Instagram

Felipe, an undocumented immigrant living in New York, has spent years living away from his family in Mexico. His mission was to find work and send money home regularly to help his family with the ultimate goal to move back to be with his wife and kids.

The documentary starts with Felipe calling his family telling them that he was ready to move back to Mexico and reunite with them.

Credit: The Cinema Guild / YouTube

After several attempts and changes of mind, Felipe is finally ready to go back home. He had been sending his family money and expects to come home in a better position. It has been 16 years and he has been diligent in sending money back to his family.

However, during a phone call home, he learns that everything he had worked for has fallen apart.

Credit: The Cinema Guild / YouTube

His family had managed to squander the money he had sent back for them. Not only that, they had gotten themselves into debt. Felipe, who was planning to go home, realizes that it might not be able to go home since the family is now indebted after his 16 years of hard, manual labor in the U.S.

During the documentary, the audience learns that Felipe has fallen in love with a woman in the U.S.

Credit: The Cinema Guild / YouTube

The romantic relationship complicates his decision to do home. On one hand, he wants to reunite with his sons and wife more than anything. He misses them terribly and knows that his heart ultimately lies with them. However, his family has spent the money he managed to send them and returning would put him back where he was when he came to the U.S. all those years ago. The new romance offers him solace and comfort in the U.S.

We witness Felipe having tough conversations with his new life in the U.S.

Credit: The Cinema Guild / YouTube

Felipe is trying to determine if he is still able to move back to a family he does not know. It has been so long since he left Mexico that he is essentially a stranger to his children. His wife has been without him for 16 years and he has set unexpected roots in a place that was supposed to be temporary. At one point, you see him telling a vendor that he was preparing to leave and she jokes that she’ll believe it when he is no longer here.

Ultimately, he is forced to make a decision as to whether he is going to stay in the U.S. or be with a family he left years ago.

Credit: mumedia / Instagram

His tale is one that so many undocumented immigrants in the U.S. experience. They leave friends and family behind in an attempt to better the lives of those they are leaving behind. Many will never see their family again and have to miss major moments, like funerals, to sacrifice it all to help their family.

Watch the full trailer below.

READ: Say Their Names: The People Who Have Died In US Immigration Custody In 2019