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Dublin: 15 °C Monday 23 September, 2019

'If I don’t have papers I won’t be able to study after the Leaving Cert'

An undocumented teenager says she doesn’t want handouts, just the chance to reach her full potential.


MY NAME IS Ariana and I’m 16. I live and go to school in Dublin. I love going to school.

All my friends are there. I play football and am on the student council. My family moved to Ireland many years ago to give me and my siblings a better future and a good education.

But things have been really hard because we are undocumented.

I did my Junior Cert in June and I did pretty well, but being undocumented means you can’t go to college. If I don’t have papers I won’t be able to study after the Leaving Cert.

You can’t travel when you’re undocumented. I haven’t seen a lot of my family for years. I can only talk to my grandparents through Skype.

I can’t go on school trips because I have no papers and I feel I have to lie and make excuses when we’re asked in school. When you’re undocumented, you’re scared of visiting places outside your local community because the police or someone might ask you questions.

There’s a lot of fear when you’re undocumented. You’re scared the police will knock on your door and take you away. I don’t want to go back to where I was born. This is my home now. Ireland is where I belong.

A while back I got involved with Young, Paperless and Powerful (YPP), which is the youth group of the Justice for the Undocumented campaign for regularisation. We take action to make change for young people like us who are undocumented in Ireland.

We made a film to help people understand our situation and to show them that a 16-year-old like me should never feel the way I’m feeling right now.

Source: Migrant Rights Centre Ireland/Vimeo

The film got brilliant media coverage. So far, over 63,000 people have seen it. All of this has made Justice for the Undocumented stronger and more powerful.

We are young people with great talent and have big hopes and dreams. We are no different than other young people. We just want to be treated equally.

We’re just like Irish undocumented in the US. We’re not looking for handouts; we just want a chance to reach our full potential and achieve our dreams.

As a young undocumented activist, I think it’s really important that everyone gets involved in campaigns like these. All our voices are needed to build power and make change.

Ariana is one of those participating in #MakeRightsReal, a new initiative of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. The Commission was set up in November 2014 as an independent public body.  Its goal is an inclusive Ireland where human rights and equality are fully enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. The ‘Make Rights Real’ campaign is co-funded by the Progress Programme of the European Union.

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