It’s not just gays and lesbians who are coming out of the closet. Students who grew up in the U.S. but are at risk of deportation are adopting the “coming out” slogan. A group of immigrant youth will march in downtown Philadelphia Saturday to publicly declare their immigration status.
Karina Ambartsoumian was born in Ukraine before the fall of the Soviet Union. Her parents left when she was 4, and she’s lived in the U.S. since she was 8.
Ambartsoumian graduated from Upper Darby High School in 2006 as an honor student and looked forward to attending Villanova University. But after a year, her money ran out. As an undocumented immigrant, Ambartsoumian is not eligible for grants or federal student loans.
“And I felt so devastated, I couldn’t continue my education. I felt so alone and so depressed,” she said.
Ambartsoumian is in immigration limbo because the current Ukrainian government, which broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991, does not recognize her as a citizen. She has no passport. And she and her parents continually face deportation.
Ambartsoumian and a several other students will march to the U.S. Custom House Saturday afternoon. They want Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which would give young immigrants without legal status a way to go to school and eventually become citizens.