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Undocumented: A hidden population in plain sight

Undocumented: A hidden population in plain sight

Eunice Anomakoh ’24 August 18, 2022

The following is an abridgement of Anomakoh’s essay that won the award for Best Personal Argument from the work created by students in UD’s First- and Second-Year Writing Program.

Illustration of immigrants walking over the globe.
Illustration by Deep Green, iSTOCK


My sophomore year in high school, my peers began driving and getting jobs, and I wanted to follow suit. I was persistent in my desire to be like others. But then I heard the truth. I could not get a driver’s license. I was “undocumented.”

I was born in Italy; when I was 21 months old, my family and I were granted American visas. My father worked two jobs to sustain our family of six in hopes of securing a better future for us, his children. “Stay in school,” he always said. I believed that acing my tests and being at the top of my class would make my father happy (which it did) and take him out of his doom of always being tired from being overworked.

I had my whole life planned.

My sights were set on graduating from high school at the top of my class and attending college on a full scholarship, and after graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I would go to medical school and become a doctor for underrepresented communities. On scholarships, I attended private schools my family couldn’t afford. Though grateful, I was bullied in middle school as an outcast, the low-income student.

Additionally, being the only dark-skin and African in the class came with its own taunting. Most people knew nothing about the disease known as Ebola except that it originated from Africa. For this reason I was tormented and intimidated to the point where I feared going to school and hated myself for being African.

But I realized that middle school was only a stepping stone and, if I wanted to succeed, I could not let others bring me down. From then on, I endured the pain silently. I had big dreams and no time for distractions. 

“I’m sorry, but I have faith that things will get better.” I’ve heard this saying so many times from so many people that it has become the chorus to my life’s melody. 

At first, my only understanding of being undocumented was that I could not get a job. Reality did not kick in until senior year and college applications. 

I was accepted into every college I applied to, but once each school became aware of my status, I was turned down. These schools talked about acceptance and inclusion, yet they turned down a prospective student because of an offense I never committed. 

I hear politicians referring to undocumented immigrants as criminals, as people who do not belong. What is my offense?

“Many undocumented children grew up unaware of their legal status, their only identity being American.”

Many undocumented children grew up unaware of their legal status, their only identity being American. With our peers, we pledged allegiance to the flag, we watched SpongeBob and crushed over Justin Bieber and One Direction. 

We are everywhere. We’re your neighbors, your health care providers, your essential workers and your friends. We’re a hidden population in plain sight. 

I am fluent in English. My first languages were Twi (the native language of Ghana) and Italian; however, I’m now unable to articulately speak Italian, and am semi-fluent in Twi. I gradually lost my sense of identity to fit in with the larger group of my American peers.

It wasn’t until recently that I began to embrace and express my multiple identities. I realized that I could fit in and stand out at the same time; I have begun to identify myself as a Ghanaian Italo-American. 


My story doesn’t end here. Since I submitted the essay in the spring of 2021, I was able to reapply to and be granted status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. This has allowed me to get a job, start driving lessons and, most importantly, become legally recognized through government documents; I now have my Social Security card. This journey has been difficult, but I am grateful for my professor, Marianne Raab, with whom I consulted (on numerous occasions) in regard to this essay, and which I initially submitted under a pseudonym in fear of the unexpected.

However, I realized that such action was contradictory to the centerpiece of my essay, which was to shed light on the truth; I had been in the shadow of fear. Things have changed, and will continue to change for the better, as I am the author of my story and not the casualty of others’ actions. I may not have much, but with this newfound freedom I have emerged from the shadows to stand in the sun and use my voice with unrelenting candor.

Arrivederci. Nante yie.  

Mary, Queen of Ukraine