The recent controversy over the President’s proclamation to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) has instigated a conversation about the lives of those who would be affected, particularly young adults and teenagers who arrived in the U.S. as children. Two short films, playing as part of a series known as DREAMer Docs, seek to cast awareness on the topic through the voices of two young women currently living with DACA.
Corey Ohama’s I Was Born in Mexico, But... follows an unknown undocumented immigrant as she discusses the secrecy in her life pre-DACA. Unable to go to school or get her license for fear of deportation, the unnamed subject lives a life outside the typical American experience yet ensconced within. She says “through stealth” she became an American. Omaha splices in archival footage of 1940s Americans as a means of showing the unity in the teenage experience, regardless of ethnicity, and what many will return to (or experience for the first time) if DACA is truly ended.
The second documentary, Brenda Avila’s Vida Diferida tells the story of 16-year-old Vanessa Martinez who’s lived in the U.S. since the age of six. Despite being a bright student with ambition, she feels forced to return to Juarez, her family’s home, to prevent deportation. As the title implies, Martinez feels like her life is deferred, and thinks attending college is pointless for a person without the ability to work legally. As with I Was Born in Mexico, But… the film shows how similar teens lives are no matter where in the country they live. Martinez is shown going to school, playing with friends, and then learns about the DACA program. Suddenly, her options for attending college feel within reach.
Beautifully directed by two filmmakers able to capture the teenage voice as well as rich history of Mexican immigration to America, you can stream both their documentaries for free via the DREAMer DOCS website through September 30th.