In November, at the debut screening of the film at the Human Rights Commission of Sonoma County, Giovanni and Diego spoke eloquently about the DACA law and the change it had made in Diego’s life.
We have had similar screenings and presentations in the spring at the Sonoma County Museum in Santa Rosa, the Petaluma Museum, Sonoma State University, other public forums, at local theaters and high schools during the year, and many other venues.
Our first film focuses on two young men, both children of immigrants, Diego and Giovanni, who are lifelong friends. Each attended high school and Sonoma State University together, but one was born in this country and one was not. The film is pretty compelling and got thousands of views on Facebook in the first week it was posted. Hundreds of people have re-posted the video on Facebook since December. The film is visible on YouTube, Facebook, as well as our My American Dreams website.
Since 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Applicants (DACA), known as the DREAMers law, has allowed certain young immigrants here in the United States without documents to qualify for temporary legal status and work permission. In the intervening two years, over 750,000 young people have obtained this form of legal status through the DACA law including thousands from the counties of Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Marin. This law has significantly changed the lives of many youth of the North Bay, allowing them for the first time to work legally, obtain a driver’s license, more easily attend university or other advanced education, pursue long-term careers in our society, and otherwise live as their peers born in this country.
Though many anti-immigrant forces in this country like to attack and deem them as “illegals,” these undocumented youth are in fact are our neighbors.
To qualify, applicants had to come here before their 16th birthday and be under 31 years old. They need to have spent at least 5 years here and either obtained a high school diploma or be presently studying. Persons with a criminal record are largely disqualified.
The politicians who thought they would self-deport did not understand that for these young DREAMers moving to their native country would be like a foreign country for them. Their lives are here with their friends, family and community. As the President said, they have grown up pledging allegiance to our flag.
Many young, talented members of our communities finally no longer have to live fearing an ICE agent at every knock on the door and are now openly discussing their status and dreams for the future.
Here are some of their Stories.
"DREAMers" are undocumented youth brought here by their parents, usually without a visa. They have grown up in our county without papers, without a real future..