Last week, the young undocumented woman pictured above, Yanelli Hernandez, was deported to Mexico. Her community rose up to fight the deportation, in light of the news that Yanelli was at risk of suicide (having one failed attempt) and that deportation put her mental health at serious risk. Despite the response in support of Yanelli, she was deported.
In her honor, the National Immigrant Youth Alliance launched UNDOCUHEALTH, a resource for undocumented immigrants with mental health issues.
Despite it’s sad beginnings, its so inspiring to see resources developed to reach such a specific population–with such specific needs.
UndocuHealth is a project aimed at providing undocumented youth with mental health support, whether it be connecting with free resources or providing access to someone to talk to, at all times.
The last few years have really seen the rise in public awareness of the situation of undocumented people in the US. Alongside this is also the reality of an increase in hatred and anti-immigrant sentiment. A group that has really stood out is the DREAMers, who are young people raised in the US but without status, and therefore without the ability to work legally and truly build lives in the country they consider home. They’ve done amazing organizing to get their demands heard, and try and pass the DREAM Act, a first step in immigration reform.
Yanelli is not the only undocumented young person to struggle with suicidal thoughts or attempts. DREAMer Joaquin Luna tragically took his own life in November, purportedly because of his desperation over his status.
I see this project as an “It Gets Better” for undocumented youth. But instead of “It Gets Better” messages, the project will provide a hotline for people to call and talk, as well as resources. Unfortunately, until our immigration system is improved, we can’t tell them that it will get better. But we can try to help them get help and support.
If you’d like to support UNDOCUHEALTH, they are trying to raise funds to get the hotline started.