Comic book helps immigrant children talk about fear

The work of this artists helps children understand deportation and discrimination
Victoria Álvarez says children are usually cast aside when adults talk about immigration – Photo: COURTESY
30/11/2017
12:47
Ana Espinosa
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Searching for the American dream, illegal immigrants in the United States live every day in fear of being caught by Immigration authorities, deported, and being separated from their families – even more so now that Donald Trump has arrived at the White House.

How to explain such a complicated, frightening, and possibly traumatic experience to immigrant children or to whose parents are illegal immigrants? The answer was provided by American artist, teacher, and activist of Mexican-descent Victoria Álvarez, who drew a comic book aimed to help children understand deportation and discrimination.

This interactive publication seeks to orient children and their parents so they can talk about these topics. Through activities, the comic book helps children identify, express, and channel their feelings of fear, anxiety, and confusion. Moreover, it includes a section on what they can do if they come face to face with Immigration officers.

“I had this idea given the situations my family and I experienced,  and from the work I've done as an activist here in Chicago,” says Álvarez.

Fiction to explain the reality

"Rosita gets scared" ("Rosita tiene miedo") is based on the story of a child who comes from “very, very, very far away.” Rosita has problems adapting to a new language, a new country, and a new environment.

After she sees his neighbor being arrested by Immigration officers, Rosita's mother forbids her from playing outside because it's “dangerous”. Rosita gets scared and experiences the same confusion and sadness many immigrant children in the United States feel.

“Vicko”, as she is known in the artistic world, has first-hand experience on the subject because she is the daughter of illegal immigrants who came from Mexico to settle in the United States during the 80's.

Álvarez says that, according to her childhood memories, her experience as a school teacer, and her work as activist for the rights of immigrants, when adults talk about their immigration status, the raids, or deportations, “children were sent to play or stay there, listening, but no one talked to them or explained them anything.”

It was through her work with the Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) that she began to prepare material aimed for kids so the immigrant community could learn about their rights.

“This is how we came up with the idea of a comic book. I had to go back to my childhood years and recall the conversations I had with children. I'm a teacher and I've used my work as an inspiration,” says Vicko during an interview with EL UNIVERSAL.

Out of the 11.1 million of illegal immigrants estimated to live in the United States, close to one million are under 18.

Estimates say that out of the total number of illegal immigrants, 58% came from Mexico.

Check out a sample of the comic here
 

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Sample taken from the comic book

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