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NEA News

Children Express Fear of Deportation in Hand-Drawn Comics

A workshop helps kids deal with the fear and anxiety about their families' immigration status.
Published: 06/13/2017

The hardline stance on immigration has struck fear and anxiety in students and their families across the U.S. They hear about “the wall” on the news or from other kids. They are told what to do if their parents don’t come home from work and who to call for help. They are aware that when someone knocks on the door they are not to answer, and they are afraid.

These fears were revealed in a recent Philadelphia workshop by a group of about 30 children of Mexican descent. They expressed their feelings in comics – a medium that the kids were already fans of and that offered a way in.

The workshop is part of an ongoing writing program of Mighty Writers, a Pennsylvania nonprofit whose mission is to help kids think and write clearly. Run by Mexican artist, writer and activist Nora Litz, the workshop was called “Illustrated Migration Stories” and the kids’ assignment, completed over seven recent Saturdays, was to tell their family’s story. Most of them focused on their immigration status and their fears about what it meant for their future.

“What’s happening with immigration right now is pretty stressful for anyone, let alone kids,” says Mighty Writers founder Tim Whitaker. “We wanted to use art to allow the kids to tell us what’s on their mind. Right away we noticed how relieved they were to verbalize this stuff. We saw them from being afraid to being more confident about who they are and how they feel about themselves and their situation. They were empowered by the process.”

Some of the comics are pictured below. If you want to participate in a workshop or want information on how to conduct one in your community, visit Find out how NEA is helping the immigrant community throughout the U.S. and learn how you can stand up for immigrant students.

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