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Immigrant Issues (85 found)
Note: These stories are from YCteen and its sister publication, Represent, which is written by and for youth in foster care.
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The author's mother brought her to the country illegally, but when she enters foster care, she's eligible to get a green card. However, the process is incredibly long and frustrating. (full text)
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Kelly is pressured by her mother to do well in school even though she hardly knows any English. Feeling stressed and alone, she finds comfort in an unlikely place. (full text)
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When David moves from Seoul, Korea to Flower Mound, Texas, he feels like he’s been transported to another planet. He describes his adjustment to America in vivid and humorous detail. (full text)
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Tairys immigrates from the Dominican Republic and struggles in school. But after she learns English and starts to excel, she questions whether she really earned the title of 8th grade valedictorian. (full text)
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After moving to the U.S., Tairys was separated from her father for years. Ultimately, she makes a difficult decision so she can see him again. (full text)
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Peter’s parents brought him to the United States from China so that he could get a better education. But adapting to life in the U.S. hasn't been easy. (full text)
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After immigrating to the U.S., Juana worries that she’s sacrificing too much of her cultural identity in the quest for a “better life.” (full text)
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Born in the U.S. to Pakistani parents, Baaria is constantly negotiating between two very different cultures. (full text)
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The "Dream Team," a student group at Juana's school, lobbies for New York's DREAM Act, a bill that would help undocumented students get state financial aid for college. (full text)
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The author describes how her family paid a smuggler to help them illegally cross the Mexican border into the U.S. She reflects on how that decision shaped her life. (full text)
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Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who immigrated from the Philippines at age 12, publicly revealed that he is an undocumented immigrant. Here, he explains his decision and his efforts to start a national conversation about what it means to be an American. (full text)
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This overview of how the U.S. immigration system works is a basic primer for understanding immigration policy and why people are calling for reform. (full text)
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Julieta Velazquez challenges common stereotypes about immigrants, questions the contention that immigrants are taking jobs from American citizens, and asks who really profits from illegal immigration. (full text)
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When Shahlo’s family wins the green card lottery, they look forward to starting a new life in New York. But the challenges associated with being new immigrants make them question their decision to leave Uzbekistan. (full text)
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The author leaves her small village in Tibet to join extended family in India and later in New York. She explains the political oppression and lack of opportunity that led her family to send her far from home. (full text)
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When Barry starts school in New York, he is surprised at how easy it seems compared to the strict approach to education in Guinea. He starts to slack off until he realizes that this new approach to education could help make him more independent. (full text)
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Peace barely remembers her early years in Nigeria and considers herself fully Americanized. But when her parents plan a trip home, Peace and her siblings develop a new appreciation for their Nigerian roots. (full text)
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When he is 12, the author’s parents move the family from Hong Kong to New York so that he can have a better education and get into a good university. He feels pressured to excel, but a lack of motivation interferes. (full text)
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After immigrating to New York, Shahlo must convince her parents - and herself - that pursuing her dream of higher education will be worth it in the long run. (full text)
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Shahlo analyzes the gender roles in her home country, and challenges the idea that Uzbek women shouldn't drive or have careers. (full text)
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Since arriving in the U.S., Barry has come to believe that the fixed gender roles in his home country don't allow men or women enough freedom. (full text)
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The author, a Muslim girl from Africa, secretly disobeys her father's orders to wear the hijab, despite potentially drastic consequences. (full text)
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Orubba belongs to a family where the women are expected to cook, clean, and raise a family. But she longs to attend college. (full text)
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Barry is surprised by how hard his dad must work in the U.S. to support their extended family in West Africa. He develops anxieties about living up to expectations. (full text)
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The recession of 2008-2011 is the latest setback for Marco’s father, an immigrant who hoped to find financial stability when he came to the U.S. 20 years ago. (full text)
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The writer, an illegal immigrant, scrambles to find a job that pays well and won’t ask for his Social Security number. (full text)
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When Zaineb arrives in the U.S. from Pakistan, she faces pressure to abandon her cultural beliefs. (full text)
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The Moon Festival celebration reminds Chun Lar of the family and traditions she’s left behind in China. (full text)
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At a high school for immigrants, Sandra feels comfortable enough to master English. (full text)
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Zeena slowly realizes that the abuse she gets from her parents isn’t just part of their culture—it’s wrong. (full text)
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Sue’s boyfriend tells her that if she were a “real” Korean girl, she would listen to him when he told her what to do. (full text)
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On the subway to Queens one day, Anna remembers taking the same ride when she was just eight years old and in America for only two months. She reflects back on what she has gained and lost as an immigrant from Korea, but as her ride ends she knows she's finally home. (full text)
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Edwidge describes the bewilderment, culture shock, and stereotypes she faces on arriving in the U.S. from Haiti at 12. She will later credit this essay with helping to inspire her novel Breath, Eyes, Memory, which became a New York Times bestseller. (full text)
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As a child, Johane spent three hellish years living apart from her mother and looking forward to their reunion. But when she finally got her wish, she found their relationship was not the same.
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Oumou's best friend is pushed into an arranged marriage at the age of 14, dashing the girls' hopes of going to college together.
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Right before she moves to New York from her native Panama, 13-year-old Madeline falls in love with Barry. They try to keep the relationship going, but the distance and Madeline's trouble expressing herself prove to be too much. It's not until she returns to Panama for a visit that she discovers the secret to lasting long-distance romance.
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Mohammed chafes under his mother’s strict rules.
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David’s family is relatively well off in Haiti, and some members even flaunt it. Some other people in their community are resentful, and use voodoo or wanga, to let David’s family know their feelings.
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At age 14, the writer leaves her loving godparents in Malaysia to join her parents and brother in the U.S.
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When the writer immigrates to the U.S. she has to leave her mother behind.
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Sayda is inspired by her aunt, an immigrant who earned a college degree through enormous hard work and sacrifice.
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As a child, David had a severe crush on Mishland, a girl at his elementary school. He never saw her after she moved to another part of Haiti and he emigrated to the U.S. As a teenager, he realizes that Mishland represents a simpler life he has left behind forever.
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David recalls his childhood in rural Haiti, where he received a goat for his 7th birthday.
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Reading the newspaper in his ESL class opens Angel’s mind to a new way of living.
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At first, Kaela does not want to move from Haiti to the United States, and she has a hard time adjusting to the new country. But eventually she loses her fear of change.
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By American standards, Leneli’s relatives in the Philippines are poor; but they’re rich in love and community.
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Growing up in Venezuela, Francis moves with her mother to four different cities and switches schools eight times. In the U.S., Francis finally puts her foot down.
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Pedro crosses the desert into the U.S. to escape dire poverty in Mexico.
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Aissata, an immigrant from Senegal, is stunned by her classmates’ ignorance about Africa.
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When Angy leaves Colombia for the U.S., she leaves behind a close circle of true friends.
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Only native-born citizens are eligible to become president—a rule Angelica thinks needs to change.
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Sadia is worried that her friend’s arranged marriage will prevent her from finishing her education.
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The DREAM Act would allow some illegal immigrant youth to attain legal status and be eligible for in-state college tuition.
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Fanny is treated like a tourist when she visits the Dominican Republic.
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Sabah examines a government policy that requires some immigrants (mostly from Muslim countries) to register with immigration offices.
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Nana grows up in Ghana, where adults see self-expression by children as a sign of disrespect. He marvels at how different things are in America.
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Sara reminisces about her Yemini grandmother.
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Newly arrived from China, Amy feels isolated and helpless when she starts school and can’t speak a word of English.
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Anghela finds a new appreciation for her country’s traditional music and dance.
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Abanty respects her parents and accepts their rules about not dating—but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
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In Haiti, students are deeply respectful toward teachers and are well-behaved at school. The fighting and disrespect in American schools are a shock for Sabrina.
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When she comes to the U.S. from Haiti, Sabrina feels pressure to look and act like the girls in her school.
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Mohammad’s family is Kurdish, an ethnic group without a country of their own.
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After the violence her family experienced in Albania, Agelta thought life in the U.S. would be simple. But things turn out to be more difficult than she imagined.
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Xiao Ling feels at home in Chinatown, but worries that living there prevents her from fully integrating into American life.
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The writer feels an iron wall prevents her from communicating with her parents. They are very strict and judgmental, and don't know how to show love. In addition, the writer was separated from them for eight years, before she joined them in the U.S. from Ecuador.
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Anna is shocked by how lax her American school is.
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Esther’s first day in 8th grade is a nervewracking one: she's a newly arrived immigrant, and her classmates seem “weird.”
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When Kim visits her sister in Beijing, she is fascinated by the culture but also realizes how foreign it is to her.
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As the only Koreans in a white, upper class neighborhood, Sung and her family get the cold shoulder.
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Victoria explores her conflicted experiences as an “American Born Chinese.”
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At 15, Raquel leaves her comfortable home in Brazil for a much more difficult life in New York. But learning to adapt has made her more independent.
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Nine years after leaving Iran with her mother, Sarvenaz still fears the oppression in that country—and the father she left behind there.
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At a time when bilingual education is facing mounting attacks, Jia Lu credits it with being crucial in her successful struggle to learn English as a seven-year-old Chinese immigrant.
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Daniel struggles mightily as a new immigrant who does not speak English. But when he realizes that numbers are a universal language and discovers his own resilience, he begins to find a path in America.
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Jillian now lives in New York City, but grew up in Antigua and misses almost everything about it: the blue-green water and white sand beaches, the wonderful variety of fresh foods, the openness of the people. The only thing it lacks is economic opportunity.
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Zeba feels immigrants should put their American identity ahead of their original heritage.
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Yuh-Yng feels cheated out of a typical American childhood because her strict Chinese parents put constant pressure on her.
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At 14, Hanify joins the Afghanistan resistance and narrowly escapes capture. He hides out for almost two years, then is interrogated by the secret police before a bribe wins his release. He leaves behind his country, family, and friends in coming to the U.S.
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Norma writes about growing up during the civil war in her country, recalling how people lost their lives, dreams, and even their capacity to feel. But not all is well when she comes to the U.S.: she sees fights between ethnic groups and learns the word "racism" for the first time.
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Claude moves to America as a teen and feels that everything is different, from religious practices, to attitudes about dating, to how teens and parents talk with each other.
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This sidebar explains how foster care youth can apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.
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As a child, Fekri is brought to the U.S. illegally from Tunisia. He fights to get a green card for himself.
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When he arrives in the U.S. from Russia, Daniel turns to drugs and crime to alleviate his loneliness.
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The writer needs to get her green card so she can receive financial aid.

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