Papers the Movie: Stories of Undocumented Youth delivers the poignant stories of five undocumented students whose life in the United States is colored daily by their lack “papers.” Without proof of their immigrant status, it is against the law for them to drive or work, and it is difficult or impossible for them to get into college.

Each year 65,000 such students graduate high school, kids who often can’t remember the countries where they were born, kids who have grown up American, yet only 5% of those go on to college.  Some are afraid that applying would put them and their families at risk of deportation, and federal financial aid is not available to these students.

One student profiled in Papers, Yo Sub, has applied to dozens of colleges and been rejected, he feels, because of his undocumented status. Simone, whose mom brought her to the US from Jamaica, is eligible for community or state college, but when she tried to explain her situation, the financial aid officer yelled at her.

You are undocumented

Only ten states allow undocumented students to pay the lower cost, resident tuition. The other forty require they pay the out-of-state tuition, something beyond the financial reach of most.   And even if they graduate college, they have no legal employment options available to them.

These kids are a lost generation, many unable to to go to college, and all unable to work or drive legally. They have no option except to move back to their country of origin, where they have no roots, no connections.

The Dream Act could change that. The Dream Act, brought before Congress in March, 2009, would put students who attend two years of state or community college, or serve two years in the military, on a fast track to legal status. Last December, Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat, introduced a comprehensive immigration bill that folds in some of the Dream Act.

Papers puts faces and stories to the 2 million undocumented students in the United States, showing their struggles and the frustrations of their teachers and politicians who are working for immigration reform which could allow these students access to American dream.

Papers was co-produced  by El Grupo Juvenil

started by four young people who wanted to represent for the 2 million undocumented youth in the country. They have grown to include dozens of youth from around the country who are participating in this project. They are involved in every aspect of production including filming, transcribing, fundraising, research and publicity. El Grupo Juvenil created a traveling art exhibit and have also designed and facilitated workshops for middle schools and high schools on the issues of immigration, discrimination and story-telling.

You can arrange a screening of Papers through this link.

Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.