Children of undocumented families ‘outing’ their illegal status?
But as states pass ever more stringent anti-illegal immigration laws — and critics denounce their parents as criminals — these young people say they have no choice.
“I breathe American air, travel on American roads, eat American food, listen to American radio, watch American TV, dress in American clothing,” says Alaa Mukahhal. “I have attended private and public American schools, read American authors, was taught by American teachers, speak with an American accent, passionately debate American politics and use American idioms and expressions. A piece of paper cannot define me. I am a Muslim, an Arab, a Palestinian and an American.”
Mukahhal, 25, crashed headfirst into what she calls the “invisible wall” of the undocumented after graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in architecture. Born in Kuwait of Palestinian parents who brought her to Chicago at the age of 6, Mukahhal only realized the implications of her status when she started applying for jobs. She considers herself luckier than others: Illinois allows in-state tuition for undocumented students. But Mukahhal cannot work in her field, because she doesn’t have a Social Security number or a work permit.