Prospects of deportation cause anxiety even among immigrants who do not suffer from mental illness. Our community members who are undocumented immigrants are haunted by continual rational and irrational fears, sometimes reaching panic levels, or a level of suspiciousness that requires very sensitive responses from our practitioners. Based on previous experiences and things they have heard, many individuals believe strongly that government agencies all share information they obtain about individual citizens. This results in such community members avoiding all services (or trying to fabricate information) in the fear that their immigration status will be reported to Immigration and Naturalization Services. Some even fear that community based resources will make such reports. It takes great skill to convince them that indeed we treat all information as confidential, and that government agencies do not regularly share information. While very dedicated and sensitive client care can help keep these anxieties in check, in most cases, it is only the achievement of citizenship or residency status that dispels the problem (which of course, may then find other outlets if the underlying paranoia or psychosis persists.)
The African Coalition assists clients to obtain free legal services, and secure pertinent documentation for immigration petitions.