Category Archives: Immigration

Latina Teens and Suicide

Rates of suicide attempts among young Latinas are startlingly higher than other youth in the U.S., according to a new report from Latina Voices and Mujeres Latinas en Accion (Part 1 and Part 2).

Added to the usual stresses of adolescence are additional issues over ethnic identity and acculturation.  And for immigrant families, parents have often had very different experiences growing up than their children, according to the report.

Some of these issues will be explored at at panel discussion tomorrow, as youth and community organizers join researchers and practitioners to explore the unique mental health challenges faced by young people whose careers and dreams are thwarted by their immigration status.  It takes place Tuesday, November 1, at 3:30 p.m. at the Adler School of Psychology, 17 N. Dearborn.

Among the presenters is Dr. Roberto Gonzalez of the University of Chicago, who was recently interviewed in another Local Reporting Initiative project, a report on the state of undocumented youth by The Gate newspaper in Back of the Yards.

By the way, don’t miss the video created by The Gate along with the community newspaper report posted here earlier.

Undocumented youth: dreaming, waiting…

In the last couple years we’ve heard about “Dream students” – college students who’ve “come out” as undocumented and protested to press Congress on the DREAM Act, which would offer a path to citizenship.

With vivid profiles of five young Back of the Yards residents, a new report  in the Gate gives us a view of the many kinds of challenges these young people confront – as well as the impact on many who don’t make it.

For kids who’ve grown up fully integrated into local school and culture, realizing the implications for their lives of being undocumented can be a profound shock.

“You feel lost,” says Quintiliano Rios, 21.  “You feel like all doors are closing on you.”

As a teenager, Aurora Vizcarra, 20, became convinced that school was pointless for her.  Today she works in a factory and a restaurant, while raising her two-year-old daughter.

University of Chicago professor Roberto Gonzalez explains that the students who end up succeeding  are those who gain support from teachers and counselors – and are able to talk about their immigration status with them.  In many Chicago schools, large class sizes make it difficult to establish those kinds of relationships, he has found.

At Holy Cross Church, immigration committee chair Jose Alonso works to motivate young people to prepare for college.  Those who succeed become expert fundraisers, he said.

Unfortunately, their future depends not just on their own talent and hard work but on the vagaries of national politics.