Coming Out of the Shadows

Being a teenager can be tough. This is generally the consensus at any high school. However, the social, academic and familial pressures are only multiplied for the thousands of undocumented teens currently living in the United States. In addition to all the usual high school anxieties, a teenager with an undocumented status must deal with a slew of other worries, including the fear of discovery by immigration officials. In response to this issue, today Ashland High School graduate Dianna Danda (Class of ‘08) will be leading a demonstration at a Tacoma, Washington detention center to raise awareness about immigrant youth and their rights. The center of the event will be twelve undocumented teenagers who Danda will lead in “Coming Out of the Shadows”.

“You grow up all your life being told ‘never talk about your status’,” explains Danda about living as an undocumented teen. “That’s why [the demonstration] is called Coming Out of the Shadows. It’s taking that last step to not being afraid of who you are.” Today, at the detention center in Tacoma, , twelve young immigrants will reveal their immigration statuses to the public and tell their own story about living in the US. Danda will be one of these storytellers.

Danda herself has lived in the United States since the age of three, when she immigrated from Mexico. It was 2006 when she first became involved in a national youth movement for immigrant rights. Until now, her work has been primarily for the advocate group, Dreamers. However, in the past year Danda has stepped up her involvement in the movement, pioneering her own organization specific to Ashland and the Rogue Valley. The organization, which is only in its second month, is a faction of the Northwest Immigrant Youth Alliance. Coming Out of the Shadows will be Danda’s most ambitious project yet.

“It’s a huge risk.” Danda admits about the project. “The worst thing that could happen would be immigration officers showing up and detaining speakers.” Nevertheless, if Danda is successful in achieving the goals of Coming Out of the Shadows, the benefits will outweigh the risks The main goal of the event? “To empower the rest of the youth and to show police and immigration that we’re not afraid anymore.”