Members of the Youth Arts Group of the Rural and Migrant Ministry made DREAMers Among Us after years of fighting for the New York DREAM Act and better futures for undocumented students. The young people worked with award-winning documentary filmmaker Robin Romano and Ilene Cutler to make a short film that shares the true stories of five undocumented students in the Hudson Valley, and their struggle to continue their education because of their status. The DREAM Act will allow otherwise eligible undocumented youth within New York State to apply for state financial aid to pursue higher education.
On March 17th 2014, the NY Senate voted on the bill. The NY DREAM Act failed by two votes — it came up short with only 30 in favor and 29 against when it needed 32 votes to pass. Then, in spring 2015 Governor Cuomo announced that funding for the DREAMer 2% increase to the TAP expense line would be included in the upcoming state budget. When the budget was controversial and showed dangers of not passing, funding for the NY DREAM Act was dropped.
The latest defeat of the DREAM Act in New York leaves the five students (and many others in a similar situation) excluded from opportunities available to their peers. Ignacio Acevedo, a strong student, was in consideration for a place at several top schools, but the moment he was forced to disclose his status, faces fell. “It was like a window closed,” says Ignacio.
“We do live in fear, and that’s violating our rights too. Nobody should live in fear. Not having the DREAM Act right now is affecting a lot of people. And it’s affecting our human rights, and I feel that the government might not realize that. Or maybe it does, but I don’t know why it hasn’t been passed, if that connection is made. It’s inhumane.” (Gabriela Quintanilla)
For more information on the DREAM Act and the Rural & Migrant Ministry, click here.