On Tuesday, Oct. 8, El Centro Latino hosted The Dream is Now in C130, where they played a film of the same name. The event was held and named after the DREAM Act, an act being voted in by Congress that would provide an opportunity to undocumented immigrant students who have been living in the U.S. since they were young to gain permanent residence status.
“The Dream is Now,” from Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenhein, detailed the stories of four undocumented students and graduates, telling a somber tale of the trials of an undocumented person, even one whose passion and education surpasses that of the average American. Jose, one graduate who carries a degree in engineering, struggles to find even a steady construction job. This is a common occurrence among the undocumented. Associated Student Government Vice President of Diversity and Pluralism Andrea Torres, an undocumented student, said, “In the end, like Jose, they end up working construction when they have a degree in engineering.”
Torres believed the event provided a perfect environment for the long discussion that followed the film where students talked in a safe place about the fears and hopes the held over the DREAM act. One conversation that drew attention was about what was considered the worst drawbacks of the act. “What about our families?” Torres asked. As it stands, the DREAM Act is highly selective and specific only to the students who meet the rigorous requirements. “No one should have to go home worrying if their parents are going to still be there.” Further, the rigorous application process and the long list of pre-requisites is seen as a ‘problem that must be addressed.’ Still, El Centro Latino generally believes that the act is a step in the right direction.
The question, “how do we define American?” arose. Does being born within the borders grant you that status? Do your ancestors need to have originated there for generation upon generation? The Spanish immigrated here, the British immigrated, then suddenly the floodgates opened along with the border. America would not be the country it is without the constant influx of ambitious people looking to better their lives. “This is what I’m talking about,” said an undocumented student who preferred to remain anonymous. “America is a nation of diversity, isn’t it? I have lived here my entire life, I’ve never even left the country, and somehow the circumstances of my birth mean I am not deserving [of citizenship]?”
El Centro Latino takes an active interest in the future opportunities invested into the Latino and Latina communities and hosts a plethora of events to do so. Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month is nationally recognized from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, and will be an active month for El Centro Latino. For more information on any of the events, issues, or how a student can get involved in volunteer efforts, talk to El Centro Latino Director Victoria Sifuentes in El Centro’s office located in Student Programs, C212.