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American DREAMersOn June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and who met several guidelines would be able to request consideration for deferred action for a period of two years with subject to renewal. This would also make them eligible for a work authorization. Although the announcement provided for temporary relief, it does not provide lawful status.

American DREAMers follows five undocumented youth and an ally, who form part of the Campaign for an American DREAM (CAD) as they make their journey from San Francisco to Washington, DC risking their freedom as many out themselves as undocumented. They walk nearly 3,000 miles to their destination in hopes that their actions will draw attention to immigration rights that are needed in the United States.

As their journey is documented, the audience learns more and more about these young activists and their personal journey that leads them to be part of the movement.

They are students who have lived in a country that has seen them grow for most of their lives and as a consequence they have build their lives within it. They are college students, young professionals, activists, and leaders in their communities.

One of the activists featured is Jonatan Martinez, who shares at the beginning of the documentary that he was brought to the United States when he was 4 years. Growing up in Georgia, he found out he was undocumented when he tried to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard but was unable to enlist due to his legal status.

He is currently facing deportation even after Deferred Action was announced. For four weeks he was detained in the Stewart Detention Center after he was picked up by campus police during his senior year.

Martinez narrates most of the documentary, which helps separate the documentary from others. It is being told by someone who lived through the experience and not by someone who is simply reading a script.

Another activist who is featured in the documentary is Veronica Gomez, who a day prior to her fourth birthday was brought to the United States. In hopes that one day she could help her family, she earned a B.A. in Criminal Justice with an option in Law Enforcement and Administration from California State University East Bay.
During the filming of the documentary Gomez demonstrated her passion for immigrants rights risking legal repercussions when she staged a six-day sit-in and hunger strike in an Obama for America campaign office in Denver, Colorado.

Co-directed and produced by Saray Deiseil and written by Jennifer Castillo, American DREAMers is different compared to any other documentary. It is personal. Not only does it inform but it also tells a story, an important one at that.

Often times documentaries are informative, but fail at keeping their audiences interested. The personal stories of the activists featured and their narration of the events that unfold are what make the documentary.

Above all, American DREAMers shines light on the current immigration situation that the country faces. It helps those who are not informed learn about the legal history on immigration in the United States.

American DREAMers stands alone in comparison to any other documentary on the subject. The youth activist featured give a face to immigration rights, which often is not given one.
This documentary will make you face a roller coaster of emotions. While you will laugh alongside the activists as they reflect on their adventures with “Big Mama” (the old RV that they drive in parts throughout their trip), you will want to cry with frustration as you watch Jonatan Martinez explain his current immigration status, but above all you will be inspired.

American DREAMers – A

LA Film Festival: American Dreamers with Jenniffer Castillo and Saray Deiseil

LA Film Festival: American Dreamers with Jonatan Martinez