Things That Matter

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

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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