By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Feb. 4, 2013

They used to live in fear and paranoia. Now, they’re speaking up. A number of undocumented youth are taking part in a musical called, “In and Out of Shadows”, a musical produced by the Marsh Youth Theatre (MYT) that highlights the struggles undocumented immigrants in America go through.

Emily Klion, director of MYT said, “I think the dialogue is changing because there are nearly 12 million undocumented people in the country. You can’t send them back. There’s nowhere to go. They are part of our fabric now.”

Some of the struggles the undocumented youth go through are being ostracized in the community, knowing that there are not enough opportunities for them in school and in the workplace, and living in fear, knowing that anytime, one of them or their loved ones could get deported.

The challenges these undocumented youth go through now known in today’s society, especially that President Barack Obama has pledged to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next six months.

Twenty-year old Deanna Palaganas is an undocumented student who has benefited from Obama’s deferred action policy, which allows her to temporarily stay and work in the country. In the musical, she plays a mother on the verge of deportation.

She said, “I just want people to have understanding. I want them to get more knowledge about the issue. I want them to know that there are individual stories, not just one story.”

Louel Senores, who plays her son in the musical, is not undocumented. But he said, this experience has exposed him to a reality that needs to be addressed by the government soon.

He said, “It’s definitely time to learn more about it. There’s all kinds of things happening in the nation with Obama’s reelection. It’s time to get involved and know more.”

Some members of the audience said, watching the musical was an eye-opening experience.

Eight-grader Daniel Ackerly said, “It’s sad that they’re treated as something different, something that’s not really true.”

Another eighth grader, Jack Taylor said, “It really showed me how hard it is for them, how much they have to struggle compared to us.”

“In and Out of Shadows” is showing at the MYT until February 17. You may visit www.themarsh.org for more information.


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