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Story Behind Dangers Faced by United States’ Illegal Refugees

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Undocumented Immigrants face many problems when coming to the United States. Parents bringing their families are faced with a high death rate and deportation. Students raised in the United States have to adapt to the culture, live in fear of being deported, and do not receive any form of federal aid to go to college. They both make a great sacrifice to come and stay in the United States, trying to find a better future. Students who battle with being undocumented show intellect, initiative, and hard work, but are finding it difficult living in America. Undocumented immigrants are well aware of the risk they are taking, but that’s their only chance they have at a better life. Leaving your country and family behind is one of the greatest sacrifices someone could make, and it’s not the first time America has seen this kind of migration.

People from Europe immigrated to the U.S. in the mid-1800’s. Gjert Hovland, from Norway, was one of those people. He emigrated from Norway and came here, to the U.S. with his family in search of a better life. As he said himself in a letter he wrote to a friend in Norway, there was room and jobs for immigrants in America. Therefore people that could not support their family would come here for economic reasons(GoogleSites). Immigrants were coming from all over Europe but mostly from Great Britain. They came for various reasons, political refuge, freedom, and economic opportunity. Native Americans welcomed these immigrants as guests. They had no intention to discriminate them or question their motives for trespassing on their land. Immigrants were offered a new life and many of them were willing to risk it all. Imagine how it would’ve been like if the head chief of an indian tribe asked, “Where’s your proper documentation?” America was founded on immigration and that is a concept unacknowledged by many people in the U.S. Even though this idea is highly ignored, both the sacrifice and suffering early immigrants went through during the 1800s can easily be compared with undocumented immigrants today.

The nation’s undocumented immigrants come from all over the world and share much of the same hardships.. They come from Africa, Asia, Central America, but more than half come from Mexico. The border between the United States and Mexico is witness of many success stories but also many deaths. “Less people are coming across,” said Bruce Anderson, the chief forensic anthropologist at the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office, “but a greater fraction of them are dying” There were 463 deaths in the past fiscal year… the equivalent of about five migrants dying every four days, according to an analysis by the Washington Office on Latin America(Pew Hispanic Center). Undocumented immigrants are willing to die to come to a completely different world, for a possible better life, if they make it to their destination. If there are high risks involved, why even attempt the journey? Many come in search for jobs, a better future for their family, or a just mere chance at opportunity. There is still a possibility that they’ll have to go back to their native country.

Undocumented immigrants coming to the United States are faced with deportation. Obama’s administration has increased border security and immigration enforcement, leading to “record” numbers of deportations that surpass the performance of earlier administrations (Jessica Vaughan). These past years, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have been deporting immigrants left and right. In 2011 some 392,000 immigrants were removed from the U.S(Pew Research Center), and deportations continue to break records. The people getting deported are; fathers, husbands, brothers. They’re just regular people trying to make it in this new country.

Many argue that undocumented immigrants come here to steal jobs and receive free government services. Of the estimated 11.5 to 12-million undocumented workers living in America, 7.5 million are employed: their labor force participation–96 percent–exceeds that of men who are legal immigrants or U.S. citizens(The Urban Institute). Undocumented immigrants aren’t here to receive free government help either. They aren’t eligible for welfare, food stamps, or Medicare. Even in the face of adversity, they see opportunities that gravitate them to this country. They know they must take action if they want to get out of their repetitive destiny. The pressure and stress they face everyday and the love for their families, make them strong enough to endure the long “walk” to the United States. Once they make it successfully into the country, they hope to seek a better education for their children. Undocumented immigrants want to raise their children in a better environment and give them a chance to go further in life than they did. One of the biggest problems is that these children want to go on to college but aren’t able to receive government assistance to pay tuition.

Undocumented young adults, many of whom were brought over to the United States as children, often find themselves unable to attend and graduate from universities of their choosing, though they have attended primary and secondary school in the US. There are roughly 65,000 illegal immigrant students who graduate high school every year, and only about 7,000 to 13,000 of those students actually go on to attend a university(Allison McGillvary). They have the grades to prove their intellectual ability but they cannot receive federal aid. These undocumented children have to adapt to the culture of the United States. Depending on what age they left their native country, they have a very difficult time changing their way of life. Also, through their lives, they face deportation everyday. News reports confirm that the parents fall victims to deportation and sometimes, their children have no clue where their parents are at. Their dreams are unattainable because they cannot afford to go to college. For many years, it looked like all hope was lost. Students began to give up and believe nothing would ever change but they stood up and protested . Through these past years there have been many positive things done for undocumented students.

Undocumented students who pursue higher education constitute a small group of extremely talented and motivated youth who have already overcome multiple, unique obstacles. The obstacles that undocumented students confront cannot be overstated. As they navigate the education system – often without family guidance – they must deal with complex, sometimes overlapping issues that impede their ability to succeed academically. These challenges include: poverty, assimilation, language barriers, violence in their community or home environment, lack of access to health care, and mental health issues(Robert Birgeneau). Students have given many representatives a reason to help them get the financial assistance they need in order to pursue their careers. The DREAM-Act had been debated for many years and there wasn’t any immigration reform. Recently in 2013, the Obama administration gave DREAM-Act eligible students permission to stay in the United States for two years through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. There are very specific requirements students must meet to be considered for Deferred Action. This allowed undocumented immigrant students to obtain their drivers license, be employed, and not be deported for two years, after which they’d have to renew their permission. This was great news for students but the question still on their minds was, “How can I pay for college?

After Obama’s efforts to help undocumented students, many organizations and States reached out to help. Washington became the fifth U.S. state to offer college financial aid to students brought into the country illegally as children. Democratic Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation to make them eligible for state grants. Inslee, in signing the bill to provide aid to students whose families meet income and residency guidelines, hailed it as a major victory for “thousands of bright, talented and very hard working students across the state of Washington”(Jonathan Kaminsky). There are more and more States allowing undocumented immigrants to receive federal aid to continue their studies. More scholarships are also becoming available to undocumented students. The end goal is to be able to become U.S. citizens and these students are heading in the right direction.

Undocumented Immigrants have been around since the 1800s. Even though times have changed Undocumented Immigrants seek the same things as they did before. They are hard working intellectuals who show initiative, both adults and students. Their great perseverance has shown through their journey to the United States as well as how they are living in the country. Undocumented Immigrants are not here to steal jobs or “freeload” off the government. They are here for a better life not just for themselves, but their family as well. Parents have taught their children the same morals and values that they have learned through their experience. Their kids grow up with many obstacles in the United States. Understanding the culture, getting passed the fear of deportation, and getting help to attend college has helped them prosper even when times were not their best. The United States government should change their immigration policy because undocumented immigrants are here to stay and they deserve to at least be acknowledged.

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Story Behind Dangers Faced by United States’ Illegal Refugees. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from
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Story Behind Dangers Faced by United States’ Illegal Refugees. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 3 Dec. 2021].
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