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Undocumented Irish Immigrants Say They Know The Fear Of Living Under The Trump Administration

When you think about the dominant narrative around undocumented immigrants in the U.S., the Irish may not be the first group of people that come to mind. But there are an estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants currently residing in the U.S. Admittedly, their struggle is different, as Shauna, an Irish immigrant, explained in a recent CNN article: “It is easier being illegal here when you’re white. It’s a bit easier to stay under the radar.”

The Irish make up one of the largest European populations in the United States, but due to the 1965 Immigration Act, legal immigration is nearly out of the question.

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IVYANDGOLD/FLICKR

The act set a limit on the number of Irish immigrants allowed in the country. As the New York Times reported in 1988, only about 10,000 immigrants were legally allowed to enter the U.S. between the years 1976 to 1985. And it hasn’t gotten any easier for hopeful Irish immigrants looking for a better life. For many, the only way to stay in the country is to overstay their visas and hope they aren’t deported. Like undocumented Latino immigrants, they are hardly able to enjoy the society to which they contribute so much of their hard work and culture.

Though they may be less likely to be profiled by ICE agents, these Irish undocumented immigrants say the face similar struggles.

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Kevin T. Houle/Flickr

Like undocumented Latino immigrants, the undocumented Irish rarely report crimes against them. They avoid going to the doctor because they don’t want to reveal their immigration status. But because they left harsh conditions, the struggles they face in the United States are worth the troubles they endure. However, because they are white, they don’t face the prejudice many Latinos face.

As NPR pointed out, in 2014, around 177,000 Mexicans were deported, while only a mere 33 Irish immigrants faced deportation. Despite the difference in treatment, the undocumented Irish live in constant fear they could be deported any day under the Trump Administration.

Shauna summed up for CNN the differences undocumented Irish and undocumented Latinos experience:

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CNN.COM

“Even as Irish, you can feel it when you’re out. Even if it’s not directed at me and it’s at someone who is Mexican or Brazilian or something, it still affects me because I feel like I’m in the same boat, but they don’t direct it at me because I’m white.”

Whether or not immigration laws are designed to target Latinos because of their skin color is up for debate, but the reality here is that the immigration system is broken for many hard working people looking to better themselves and the societies to which they belong.

[MORE] CNN: White, Irish, and undocumented in America

READ: As ICE Targets People With Certain Kinds Of Tattoos, Immigrants Are Seeking Tattoo Removal

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Chicago’s Mi Tocaya Is Offering Up Free Mexican Homemeals For Undocumented Community

Culture

Chicago’s Mi Tocaya Is Offering Up Free Mexican Homemeals For Undocumented Community

mitocaya / Instagram

Undocumented communities are being left out of Covid relief plans. Chef Diana Dávila of Mi Tocaya in Chicago is working to help undocumented restaurant worker in the time of Covid. Abuse of undocumented workers is rampant in certain industries and Chef Dávila hopes to offer some kind of help.

Mi Tocaya is a Mexican restaurant in Chicago’s Logan Square that wants to help the community.

Covid-19 has devastated the hospitality industry with restaurants being hit exceptionally hard. Restaurants have been forced to close their doors for good as the virus dragged on with no decent relief plan from the federal government. As several countries financially support citizens to avoid economic disaster, the U.S. government has given citizens $1,800 total to cover 10 months of isolating and business closures.

Namely, Mi Tocaya is working to help the undocumented community.

Mi Tocaya, a family-run restaurant, is teaming up with Chicago’s Top Chefs and local non-profits Dishroulette Kitchen and Logan Square Neighborhood Association. The goal is to highlight the issues facing the undocumented community during the pandemic.

The initiative called Todos Ponen, is all about uplifting members of our community in a time of severe need. The restaurant is creating healthy Mexican family meals for those in need.

”We asked ourselves; How can we keep our doors open, provide a true service to the community, maintain and create jobs, and keep the supply chain intact by supporting local farmers and vendors. This is the answer,” Chef Dávila said in a statement. “I confidently believe The TODOS PONEN Logan Square Project addresses all of the above and can very well be easily implemented in any community. Our goal is to bring awareness to the lack of resources available to the undocumented workforce- the backbone of our industry.”

The initiative starts in February.

Mi Tocaya is offering 1000 free meals for local farmers and undocumented restaurant workers. The meals are available for pickup Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 2800 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647. to make this happen, Mi Tocaya also needs your help.

The restaurant has teamed up with two nonprofits to make sure that they can scale their operation to fulfill their commitment. They are also asking for donations to make sure they can do what they can to help undocumented restaurant workers.

According to Eater LA, 8 million restaurant workers have been laid off since the pandemic started. Some restaurants have had to lay off up to 91 percent of their staff because of Covid, about 10 percent of those are undocumented. In the cities, that number is as high as 40 percent of the laid-off restaurant staff are undocumented.

“People don’t want to talk about the undocumented workforce, but they’re part of our daily routine in most restaurants,” Jackson Flores, who manages the operations of Mi Tocaya, said in a statement. “They are in the toughest position in the whole economy because they’re an invisible part of it. Restaurant worker advocacy groups have added the creation of relief funds to their agendas, but there have yet to be long-term changes in protections for undocumented workers. Without access to unemployment benefits and other government resources, this group is especially vulnerable.”

READ: Hands-Free Cholula Dispensers Have Become a Thing In Restaurants Because of COVID-19

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Reddit Users Shared How Hard It Can Be To Actually Live An Undocumented Life In Certain Countries

Things That Matter

Reddit Users Shared How Hard It Can Be To Actually Live An Undocumented Life In Certain Countries

HERIKA MARTINEZ / Getty

In recent years scripted TV and docu-series have worked hard to share the heartbreaking stories of the undocumented immigrant experience. From the depiction of deportation in the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” the detention of Mateo on “Superstore” and on “Jane the Virgin.” Also, let’s not forget the crushing Netflix docuseries “Living Undocumented.”

Although these series work hard to share these stories, they aren’t enough. and so many people have stories to share that still go untold.

Recently we came across a story on Reddit that shared quite a few heartbreaking experiences about how hard it is to make ends meet in another country.

Check out the stories below.

“Depends on which country we’re talking about. East Europe has lots of illegals from Ukraine, Russia and the Far East, like Vietnam. They rent an apartment illegally and usually work in construction, where they get paid in cash. It’s generally not a big problem as those people just want to make some money to send home to their families.

I don’t think it’s very hard once they get a job, as all the necessities can be bought with cash. Troubles start if they get injured or something like that, because they’re not eligible for free healthcare services.

A few years ago one construction company refused to pay their Vietnamese employees for the work they’ve done. He said ‘What are you going to do, go to the police?’ They did, won the lawsuit, got paid, then left the country.” –Airazz

“It does really depend on the country. I’ve met a few people in my country that are there illegally. They have cash in hand jobs and usually live in with other people in a sublet kinda situation. Unless they try to leave the country or commit a crime and get arrested then really there’s not much danger of them getting caught and deported.

Though saying this our government is becoming less tolerant to immigration, legal or not so we are seeing increasing numbers of immigation and customs officers all around, so who knows how long these people will be safe here.” – StrangePhotograph

“I can only speak to the U.S. immigration system, as this is my area of focus, but the overarching aspects of the immigrant experience are probably universal. It is incredibly difficult to access the system while outside the U.S. if you do not have a U.S. sponsor, win the diversity visa, or qualify for humanitarian relief (asylum or refugee status). This means that an economically depressed farmer who wishes to provide for his family by moving to America can’t simply walk into an office and ask for the documentation to begin the immigration process, even if he could afford the exorbitant fees. Someone either has to petition for him from the U.S. (which can take decades to process) or apply for the diversity visa (not guaranteed). Being in poverty does not qualify you for humanitarian relief.

So this farmer sees his parents and sisters struggling and decides that leaving them and being undocumented in the U.S. is better than the current situation. He overstays his visa or he crosses the border without inspection. Either way, he becomes undocumented in the U.S.

The jobs he gets pay him under the table and doesn’t provide any sort of protection or health insurance, but it’s more money than he would ever make back home, so he doesn’t care. He pays his taxes because a TIN number is one of the only identifiable government issues IDs he can get, even though he’ll never be able to access social security or disability. He lives a cautious life, doing his best to keep his head down, stay out of trouble, and send money to his family when he can.

But he’s human. He makes friends, probably with people from his hometown who are also undocumented. They do the usual things people do, but are always looking over their shoulder. Maybe he meets a girl, also undocumented, and they have a child. Suddenly the reality of the situation begins to set in. His status could tear his family apart, but the other option is bringing his new family back to the poverty he fled. Could he do that to his child? Take away the life of opportunities available in the states? Aren’t those opportunities the whole reason he left?

This fear drives him to see if he can fix his immigration status. His community is mistrustful of outsiders, so he takes the advice of a friend who heard from another friend that there’s a woman who know someone at USCIS that can get him Legal Permanent Resident status. He meets with her regularly, pays her thousands of dollars–everything his family has been able to save over the past few years–and one day she stops answering the phone. She disappears. He’s so disillusioned, his resigns himself to a life in the shadows. Limited.

A decade or more passes, he sees his kid getting older and his parents getting sicker. He hasn’t seen them since he left because he can’t travel, so he decides to try to fix his status again. He goes to a local non-profit that provides affordable legal immigration services that he heard about through his church. They review his case and ask him to come back again, that he may qualify for a specific type of visa only available to victims of crime due to an assault he experienced a few years before.

He leaves the office hopeful, even though he has to drive an hour or so to get home. It depends on the state, but he probably can’t get a license where he lives, so driving anywhere probably triples his anxiety. Suddenly there’s a cop behind him and his mind is racing. The next thing he knows, he’s being taken to the police station for not having documentation. Within 24 hours he’s handed over to ICE and within three weeks he’s deported back to his home country. He sees his parents, hugs them, and heads right back around to the U.S. once more to reunite with his family.

My family was lucky enough to obtain citizenship when the laws were more kind to hopefuls migrants, but many of our friends were not. This is an amalgamation of their experiences.”- attheincline

“I’m from the US and overstated my Visa in Colombia and was able to get a good job at a software development company that paid me cash under the table. Ironically enough they had a contract with the government. I was up front about my situation as well.

Colombia is a very cash-oriented country. I had no trouble paying my rent in cash, traveling by plane, working, going to the hospital, etc. When it was time to leave I paid a fine of like $150USD which was cheaper than the visa I needed. I was stopped by the cops once and didn’t have my passport and they just gave me a warning. Obviously my experience isn’t the same as everyone else’s.”- DSPGerm

“Remember that an undocumented immigrant’s experience is going to vary on age (speaking from the US). If a parent brings a young child over, the child is entitled to American schooling, and will start to associate with a social group way different from their parents. But eventually they’ll start to realize that there’s something off about their status: as their friends start to drive, they won’t be able to get a license, their friends will start working, and they won’t be able to, their friends will go off and begin careers, and the “1.5 generation” immigrants will be stuck living perpetually as if they were still at 15 years old.

There’s also the issue of living in fear of deportation, which leads to a distrust in the system. Under the Secure Communities program, an undocumented immigrant could be deported for increasingly minor infractions, so they’re less likely to call 911, go to the doctor/hospital, hell, anywhere where there’s any kind of “authority.”

Add to this the fact that, in the US, the vast consensus among researchers is that as the undocumented population rises in a metropolitan area, crime rates across the board (black, white, Latino) decrease in every measure (homicide, assault, burglary…).

I guess that last paragraph is an aside, but I think it’s relevant to point out the basis for the Secure Communities program as being flawed. Increasingly deporting undocumented immigrants, which is the aim of the program, is going to have a similar affect on crime rates as deporting 80 year old grandmas would.” – NotFuzz

“Depends on the country and your social-economical status I assume. A few years back I was studying abroad and my student visa expired like 6 months before my leave. I realised it a few days before I would leave, went to the police and they said it’s not a huge deal. But this would probably be a huge deal if I was a low paid worker or something.

Or for example this was in Europe at a time Europe was okay taking lots of immigrants, let’s say if it was in US of today, I’d probably be fined or whatever.” –Pmmeauniqueusername

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