The Almighty Revolutionaries are struggling, stuck on a Jeopardy question about a waitress' right to overtime pay. At last they sort out the math, and the game moves on: What is one similarity between U and T visas? What did Dolores Huerta fight for?
This isn't a light-hearted game for these 14 young people, it's an exercise for peer educators training to bring information on immigration, history and youth rights to 5,000 community members. Many have mixed immigration statuses in their families, and they're not alone: some 9 million U.S. families are in the same situation. 15-year-old trainee Leonna Desty explains, "I want to show the struggles we went through and the strength that we have in not giving up. Deep inside we're all afraid, but we're not letting it take over. I'm going to do what I need to do for my community."
I’ve been photographing Atlas:DIY members like J., a 22-year-old college student who came to the U.S. from Mexico 10 years ago. She’s participating in the non-profit’s paralegal training so she can advise community members on immigration issues in hopes of prevent them from falling into immigration limbo as her family did.
Many members are feeling isolated and hopeless due to a reported rise in hate crimes, xenophobic language from officials and more prolonged legal processes. The legal team is struggling with longer wait times, lack of answers, and difficulty advising young people. USCIS is much slower to process Special Immigrant Juvenile Status applications now, and what to do for DACA recipients?
At the end of the peer educator session, the participants form a circle and chant, "It is our duty to fight for freedom. We must love and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains." They repeat the chant three times, growing louder with every repetition. Then they clean up the pizza boxes, check their phones, and walk out into the warm sunny evening. They have work to do.
Supported by the International Women's Media Foundation, this work is unpublished.