Like many AILA members, I saw a lot of lives changed for the better by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative over the last 5 years. After 25 years of a very rewarding practice representing immigrants, I was moved beyond words by the phenomenon of so many young lives being changed so dramatically by one policy. My life changed too, and so in 2013, with the help of a filmmaker, I decided to tell the story of these young people in a way that might be compelling to voting Americans.
Dreamers want to fully participate in American life. To be able to go to school without fear, to work without trepidation, to be American proudly and completely, as they had been since childhood, but for a lack of paper documentation. But how could I show people, those not enmeshed in the weeds of immigration law, what this program means and why these young people are emblematic of our country at its best?
From there, the MyAmericanDreams Film Project (www.MyAmericanDreams.org) was born, with help from our local PBS station, and community leaders and DREAMers from Sonoma County, California. Since then, our videos and film have been broadcast on our own public TV station (KRCB) and shared with other stations on the PBS network across the country.
This fall we produced a film, The Only Home I Know, with help from DefineAmerican and Jose Antonio Vargas, who introduces the film that powerfully describes his story and that of six of Northern California DACA recipients.
But disseminating this film in California isn’t enough. We need the help of AILA members and the public to share these powerful DACA stories in communities and on PBS stations across the country. A simple phone call to the station, or tweet tagging its handle, could be all it takes for them to show the film. PBS stations can use this direct download link via Hightail: https://spaces.hightail.com/space/e55ekqJZyy/files. Please help distribute the videos to members of your AILA Chapter, within your greater community and by reaching out to your local PBS station.
The goal of the project is not only to reach Americans and share information about DACA, but also to change the hearts and minds of Americans about undocumented immigrants generally. To change those hearts and minds, we need to get in front of their eyes and ears! There’s really no more important time to reach, and teach, Americans about DACA.