“Acknowledge our humanity.”
Immigration policy and rhetoric has divided our country and communities by creating not only physical borders but also mental and emotional divisions. The lack of federal immigration reform has left many families in our community divided, not only by their varied immigration status but also by their accessibility to health services. On June 15, 2012, President Obama created a new policy calling for deferred action for young undocumented individuals who came to the U.S. as children called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). According to the most recent 2016 data, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved 45,295 applications in Arizona. Youth that obtained the status often refer to themselves as “DACAmented”.
DACAmented Voices in Healthcare examines the health impact of these borders and divisions on immigrant youth and their families. For three months seven DACAmented youth met to share and discuss their health experiences through personal essays, poems, photographs and policy recommendations. They share their innermost thoughts and struggles, in hopes that their experiences will develop our understanding of them as human beings and how our fragmented immigration and healthcare systems effect families in our community. The project was facilitated by Sofía Gómez, as part of her doctoral research at the University of Arizona’s Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
The importance of hearing their voices is particularly critical during an election year that has revealed extreme and polarizing attitudes towards immigrants particularly immigrants of Mexican descent. Not surprisingly, the youth’s words and photographs illustrate stories of discrimination, fear, depression, stress, and exclusion but also of great strength, resiliency, love and unity. Collectively, they want to bring light and healing to themselves and our community.
Health is the ultimate human denominator, as illness and healing transcend socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexual orientation and geographic boundaries. In MLK’s words, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” It is our moral and collective responsibility to provide support and health services to everyone in need.
We hope this exhibit offers new perspectives and lenses through which you can look at our community and the role we can all play in building healthy communities that cultivate a deeper understanding, mutual respect and compassion.
View the Exhibit
To view the exhibit as a slide show online, click the first image. You can navigate the photos (and writings) by using the back and forth arrows at the bottom left corner of the slide window. You can also just click on the image and it will advance you through the slideshow.