Alden Nesbitt no longer looks forward to his birthday. On his birthday two years ago, Nesbitt received a letter from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services telling him he had 90 days to leave the country. He had become undocumented.
The New York City Department of Education recruited international teachers from the Caribbean in 2001 during a teacher shortage. Hundreds of teachers brought their families over to the United States, including Nesbitt’s.
But due to a long and complex immigration process, some of their children turned 21 before these teachers could receive their Green Cards. Since they were over the age of 21, these children were no longer considered dependents of their families, making them ineligible to benefit from their parent’s immigration status, a process known as aging out.
Nesbitt, 23, chose to stay and advocate for families in his situation. Working with The Black Institute, a New York-based non-profit, Nesbitt co-founded The International Youth Association (TIYA) in 2011 alongside Mikhel Crichlow, 27, who became undocumented under the same circumstances.
“Meeting up with The Black Institute and starting The International Youth Association gave me a glimmer of hope that somehow I could still fight for what I feel was promised to me and my family,” said Nesbitt.
With current immigration legislation looming in Congress, Nesbitt and Crichlow continue their push for the rights of the children of recruited professionals and their right to documentation.