You’re undocumented and common sense dictates that you keep it a secret from the average American. The baggage that comes with keeping such a secret is that you very frequently have to tell half-truths and lies. Undocumented youth should never lie about their immigration status to anybody or anything official, such as anything in writing and anything government-related; use your common sense. I’d like to take a moment here and stress that not lying does not mean having to reveal the truth. You have the right to remain silent. In fact, do not confess that you’re undocumented if you’re approached by immigration officials; know your rights. It’s actually a bit of a pet peeve of mine whenever people assume that are not lying means are revealing the truth. Whenever I happen to watch TV shows or movies that involve people not being able to lie such as Liar Liar and The Invention of Lying, I get blue in the face from trying not to yell, â€œJust stop talking! Not being able to lie does not automatically mean that you’re forced to open up about every single detail in your life! Ahhh! However, they don’t need to tell the truth to anybody else in their personal life. By those in their personal life, I mean friends and acquaintances. (Again, this post is for tips on how to lie only to your friends and acquaintances.)
Hence, many undocumented youths conceal their immigration status when faced with potentially awkward questions, but the problem is that they absolutely suck at it. When faced with an instance in which they have to lie, they come up with a myriad of half-hearted excuses that they think up on the spot. Keep in mind that one of the absolute last things a person will suspect of you is that you’re undocumented. The concept just simply is not registered on most people’s radars. However, this type of half-hearted lying is what causes the most suspicion because it becomes obvious that you’re trying to hide something.
So, Tip #1: Think up a lie beforehand.
Prepare answers to questions related to the limitations caused by your immigration status that you know are bound to come up. Don’t just come up with a one sentence answer. Make up a small back story in case your inquirer asks follow-up questions. There are a variety of universally problematic questions that are asked of undocumented youth by their documented peers. Some of them are:
- Why don’t you have a driver’s license?
- Why can’t you come overseas with us?
- Why can’t you get federal student loans?
- Why didn’t you take the internship?
- Why don’t you get a better job?
If you are ever asked a question that you didn’t think to prepare for, have an appropriate default answer handy like, Oh, I’ll tell you later. I don’t really want to think about it right now. Try not to clam up or look shadily uncomfortable.
Tip #2: Imagine that you’re not undocumented.
There are plenty of U.S. Citizens who don’t have a driver’s license, want to be paid in cash, have never seen the ocean or gone overseas, don’t vote, or choose not to do any of the other things that we desperately wish to do. Pretend that you’re one of them when trying to think up a lie instead of falling back on the self-defaming excuse of, Oh, I’m just being lazy. Maybe, I’ll get to it later.
Some of the excuses for not having a driver’s license would be:
- My parents don’t want me to drive.
- I don’t have a car, so I won’t be driving anyway.
- I’m poor, so I can’t afford to drive anyway.
- Insurance costs more since I’m a teenager.
- I’d have to get a Learner’s Permit and I don’ t want to have to deal with that.
- I’m terrified of cars and driving. I was in a traumatizing accident when I was younger.
- I suck at driving. I’ve already tried and failed several times. Hence, I’ve given up.
- I care passionately about the environment, so I refuse to drive and will only ride a bike or take public transportation.
- I’m a conspiracy theorist. I know that driver’s licenses are going to be soon implanted with devices that can be used by the government to track your every move.
- I’m an international student, and there’s all this hassle that I don’t really want to deal with.
- I hate tests. I think it stems from my fear of rejection.
- I want to live my life never setting foot inside a DMV.
In order to create a more effective lie, you have to do some research to learn about what you’re lying about. For example, most undocumented youth will have to use their passport as their main form of identification. Permanent residents don’t have U.S. Passports; their passports are of their country of origin. So, if any of your friends inquire about why you have a foreign passport, you could say that you’re a permanent resident or maybe even an international student. They could very likely ask why you’re still a permanent resident or why you don’t have a U.S. government-issued ID. Therefore, if you want to pull off a lie successfully, you’d have to know more about permanent residency. If anything, you could overwhelm your friends with a storm of information about permanent residency and naturalization until they just accept it and move on.
Tip #3: Be consistent. Create lies that are close to the truth and easy to keep track of.
Think up lies that you know you can be absolutely consistent about. Write them down in a notepad if you must. Don’t say that you don’t drive because you care about the environment, and then, get caught not recycling. Lies that are closest to the truth are usually the ones that most people can pull off successfully. Likewise, it might easiest for you to pretend that you’re an international student who has been taking public education in the U.S. since elementary school. It could explain away many of the questions that you can’t answer truthfully due to your immigration status.
Tip #4: Deliver your lies well.
Pretending that you have some psychological trauma or phobia is usually a great excuse that people tend to accept without question. The problem with it is that you have to be a good actor in order to pull it off. If you don’t think that you can convincingly act traumatized at the sight of a steering wheel, don’t say that you’re too scared to drive.
Finally, if you can, try to be creative and witty with your lies. Doing this would be entirely for you, not for anybody else. Having to lie to your friends can feel crummy and being light-hearted about it helps counter that.
- Ille the gal
I know that it’s a bit corruptive to give young people tips on how to lie well. However, I also know that this type of situation is what all undocumented youths face, and after a while, can get to feel very dispirited about. As always, feel free to email me comments, questions, and suggestions.