Hello everyone, I hope you are staying safe and healthy during these times.
Today, I have the wonderful pleasure of introducing My Undocu Life’s newest contributors, Francesca Milagros Donayre. I recently met Francesca and we connected on many subjects. I am super excited about her sharing her narrative and other topics that she believes are meaningful and deserve a share of voice amongst our community.
Read Francesca’s introduction below!
I was born in Lima, Peru. I was 7 when I first got to the US. I lived in New York for two years and then later moved to Wilmington, NC. I’ve been here ever since. Growing up both of my parents have emphasized the importance and values of having a higher education; with the constant motivation I received from them I decided I wanted to go to college. I attended Cape Fear Community College and graduated in 2020 with an Associate of Arts. I am currently at UNC Wilmington working on my Bachelor’s in Political Science with a concentration of International Studies and a minor in Sociology.
I’ve had DACA since 2012; Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program that allows certain individuals that were brought as children to the United States to receive a two-year renewable work permit, along with a license and a social security number. Read more about DACA here.
DACA has allowed me to work and go to school. Although DACA has helped many people like me, not many people know the negative factors that come with it in regard to our mental health. With mental health already being badly stigmatized, I think it is imperative to talk about the anxiety DACA recipients constantly go through. We have the constant uncertainty of our future being jeopardized while waiting for our work permits to be renewed because DACA is not a pathway to citizenship.
Undocumented immigrants suffer chronic feelings of sadness and worry because of their legal status. This can lead to suicidal thoughts and self-harm because they’re unsure what their future will hold. Immigration itself has disrupted the mental health of many immigrant families but especially our youth. Undocumented youth have reached the point of navigating through the challenges of being an adult. On top of that, they must deal with discrimination and the constant reminders that “you’re not good enough,” or “you don’t belong here.” Many DACA recipients have had to drop out of school to be the head of house for their families. Some individuals are as young as 19 years old working over 40 hours to be able to support their families. With that great responsibility on their shoulders comes a lot of stress for a 19-year-old. It is vital for people to become aware of the hardships that some, if not most, DACA recipients go through in their lives to be able to understand the mental hardships they deal with day-to-day.
I look forward to sharing my story further and exploring mental health challenges and victories with all of the My Undocu Life readers.