Melissa Garcia Velez hadn’t really considered her immigration status until she started looking at colleges. Her high school counselor told her she wouldn’t be eligible for financial aid unless she could prove she was in the country lawfully.
This was traumatic news for the now 22-year-old New Yorker.
“At that point, I thought of quitting and simply saying, I’m just going to go back to Colombia and start from scratch,” she said. “I didn’t think I was worth it. There were a lot of feelings of I don’t deserve to be here.”
Her experience is relatively common for young people growing up without legal permission to reside in the U.S. The move to a new country may begin full of hope and excitement for children, but when the reality becomes clear — no college, no job, no driver’s license — the impact can be psychologically devastating. Beyond the obstacles to…
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