Dreamers’ Anxiety Could Affect Their Mental Health

Concerned “Dreamers” Paola Soria and Karla Collaguazo, from Ecuador, listen to Jeff Sessions’ conference about the end of DACA. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

Ever since the Trump administration announced that it would eliminate the DACA immigration relief, Mexican-born Pamela Domínguez has been unable to sleep. She has also lost her appetite and finds it hard to concentrate at work because her mind is overwhelmed with worry.

The 24-year-old said that she feels depressed and is extremely anxious from thinking that she may lose everything at any moment and be deported to a country she does not know.

“When Trump made the announcement, I got really sad, sat down and cried for a long time. It’s too many emotions, too much fear and anxiety to know that they will send you back and that you will not be able to do anything about it; that you will be back in the same place, in ‘the shadows’,” said Domínguez, one of the 45,000 “Dreamer” youths living in the New York area, and one of 800,000 at the national level. In a matter of months, they could all be stripped of DACA and the benefits the program provides them.

“At first, when Trump started saying that he wanted to get rid of DACA, we were a little worried, but he never said anything specific in the news. Now that there is a set date, we are very nervous,” added the Mexico City native, who has had DACA for four years and is scheduled to renew it in January 2018 for the second time.

Pamela Domínguez suffers from depression and anxiety due to the possibility of losing the benefits granted by DACA. (Photo provided to El Diario)

Domínguez said that, like thousands of other youths in the U.S., she was able to graduate college, get a driver’s license and land a good job thanks to DACA. For that reason, the possibility of losing this benefit causes her a level of stress and anxiety she said she had never experienced before.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do to sit down and talk to my boss, explain my situation to him and tell him that my DACA will expire in January. Without that permit, I will lose my job and be unable to pay my bills,” lamented the young woman, who is an assistant at an architectural firm in Manhattan.

Even though her boss knows that she has a work permit and that she is protected from deportation, he still does not know that DACA has been eliminated and that she may be unable to renew it. “That is what gets me so nervous and anxious. Even though my boss is a good person and would like me to stay, he knows that working without authorization is illegal,” said Domínguez.

Severe anxiety and depression

According to Dr. Joanna Almeida, an assistant professor at Simmons College School of Social Work in Boston, the great sense of worry Dreamers are feeling in light of the uncertainty regarding their immediate future and the fear of possible deportation can lead to such a deep state of anguish that they could end up suffering from severe anxiety and depression. They are needing to buy cbd oil to help their panic and calm them down. If you decide to use this or any other marijuana products, consider Greenrush marijuana packaging. It’ll keep your marijuana safe and sound.

“We know that the effect of policies and decisions such as the ones taken by the Trump administration cause great fear, in addition to anxiety and depression, and that they produce a wide range of mental health disorders,” explained Almeida, who is the author of a study about the effect of discrimination and anti-immigrant policies among Latinos in the U.S. The report was published by the Social Science & Medicine – Population Health Journal.

“The most common depression and anxiety symptoms may include trouble sleeping and changes in sleep patterns. People might have insomnia or sleep too much. There can also be changes in appetite,” said the therapist.

In Domínguez’s case, as she explained, these symptoms have already appeared. “When I am depressed, I don’t feel like doing anything. I get home from work and sleep all the time. I don’t get hungry. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and start thinking about what I’m going to do.”

Almeida advised DACA recipients who are experiencing severe anxiety and depression symptoms and other psychological disorders to find professional help and medical assistance immediately. “These symptoms may cause adverse effects on their health and their lives, so they need to take action. They should not be embarrassed to seek help to improve their mental health.”

She did not know she was undocumented

Unlike most Dreamers, who were brought into the U.S. as children by their undocumented parents – many of them by crossing the border – Domínguez and her older brother entered New York as tourists when she was 3 years old. As is the case with many immigrants, her parents decided to stay on U.S. soil after their visa expired because of the economic opportunities they found here and lacked in their native country.

“We came here because, in those days, my dad had been fired from his job, and we didn’t even have money to pay the rent. He arrived first and then my mom brought us over,” said the Elmhurst, Queens, resident. “The plan was not to stay here but to save some money and return to Mexico in a year, but better opportunities opened up.”

It was not until she turned 18, graduated high school and was offered a full scholarship to study veterinary science at Mercy College that she found out she was undocumented.

“I met all the requirements and had the grades to get the scholarship, but when I filled out the application, I was unable to accept it because they asked me for a social security number and I didn’t have one. That was when my mom explained to me that we were undocumented,” said the young woman, who now has an associate degree from LaGuardia Community College and is an English teacher.

Dr. Almeida advises Dreamers to avoid panicking, adding that “nothing is going to happen with DACA right now.” Instead, she recommended them to get connected and seek out other Dreamers and beneficiaries of the program.

The mental health specialist also suggested using the support services offered by community and religious organizations, including churches, their families and even employers who may show solidarity. “As an example, Microsoft announced that they will support any employee who is a DACA recipient,” said Almeida.

(…)

Domínguez said that (…) she is willing to protest, write letters, use social media and offer interviews to media outlets to make her voice heard, the way other Dreamers are doing.

“After Trump’s announcement, I couldn’t see a future. I imagined myself ‘without papers’ having to start working cleaning houses, but after thinking a lot and crying a lot and talking to other Dreamers, I see that all I have left is to fight on,” said the young woman, who is obtaining guidance from organizations such as Make the Road New York.

(…)

NY Dreamers could lose health insurance

[Below are excerpts from another story by Pedro F. Frisneda about how the DACA program has allowed thousands of undocumented New Yorkers to obtain health insurance through Medicaid.]

Although it is not offered to DACA beneficiaries at the federal level, (…) some states – including New York, California, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia – allocate money from their budgets to grant government-funded health coverage to low-income people.

It is not known how many of the 45,000 Dreamers living in New York have Medicaid, but the Department of Health estimates that it could be between 5,000 and 10,000.

(…)

The case of Dreamers at risk of losing the health coverage they received through their jobs should they be stripped of their work permits is also a cause for concern.

This is the case of Pamela Domínguez, who has been able to have health insurance for the two years she has been a DACA beneficiary.

“Not having insurance would mean not being able to afford birth control and not being able to get annual exams or vaccines, which I especially need because I frequently get the flu,” she said.

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