Film highlights DREAMers, SIUC students and advocates push for " - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Film highlights DREAMers, SIUC students and advocates push for "clean" DREAM Act

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CARBONDALE -- Undocumented students, known as DREAMers, and advocates put a spotlight on the immigration issue in Carbondale Wednesday night.

Dozens packed Epiphany Lutheran Church  for a screening of the documentary, "I, Too, Dream American," highlighting the journey of two SIUC DREAMers, Giovanni Galindo and Oneida Vargas.

"I had this responsibility to give a voice to these DACA students here," said Tomas Cortez, the SIUC sophomore who created the film. 

SIU is home to more than 1,500 international students and about 25 DACA recipients, according to advocates and SIUC sources. 

Cortez, who is not a DACA recipient, is friends with those students and hopes to educate the community through the film. There was also a panel discussion following the screening, which touched on the state of immigration law and the road ahead for local DREAMers.

"We came here when we were very young, our parents brought us here with one goal, to get an education, to have a better life," said Martha Ruiz, an SIUC DACA recipient who spoke on the panel.

Giovanni Galindo, one of the characters in the film, came to the United States when he was 6 years old.

"This is my home, I contribute to the society, I'm not doing criminal activities or anything like that," Galindo said. "Usually when we work, we're trying to achieve higher education to fulfill higher level careers."

Zeniada Morales, the second student featured in the film, is currently interning at the state Capitol.

Students and members from the Southern Illinois Immigrant Rights Project urged the packed house to call on lawmakers to pass a "clean" DREAM Act that will continue protecting undocumented immigrants.

Though the future remains unclear, the SIUC students hope to achieve their American dreams and contribute to society.

"When we have these conversations among ourselves, we allow people to grow, to really just explore that the world and especially in America is made up of immigrants," Ruiz said.

Organizers handed out informational forms encouraging people to call on lawmakers for a path to citizenship and protection for DREAMers. They also encouraged them to sign a petition to get the SIUC faculty more involved in supporting DACA recipients.

To watch the "I, Too, Dream American" documentary, visit here.

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