September 21st, 2009

Media Monday: Papers, An (Un)Documentary

For many students graduating high school is an exciting step in a journey towards higher education. But for the more than 65,000 undocumented students in the U.S., graduation often signals a dead stop in the road.

Federal law doesn’t prohibit undocumented students from attending college, but there are major admissions obstacles for students without papers: it’s difficult to obtain in-state tuition and nearly impossible to apply for financial aid. And because they lack papers, they also can’t work in order to save up money to attend college. These are often students who have been in the U.S. for much of their lives, attending elementary and middle school. So why shouldn’t they have access to the same resources as their native-born peers?

The DREAM Act has been introduced in Congress and aims to increase access for undocumented students. If passed it would “allow undocumented immigrant youth who were brought to the country as children to obtain legal permanent resident status if they remain in school through high school graduation and go on to college or military service.”

Papers is a new film that draws attention to this issue and hopes to spark advocacy on behalf of undocumented students. The film introduces us to six characters–based on real-life undocumented youth–who share their stories and the challenges they face as they turn 18 and graduate high school without legal papers. The film begins nationwide screenings in October; in the meantime, you can read more about the DREAM Act and the struggles of undocumented students in the report, “Young Lives on Hold.

Watch the trailer:

Papers, The Movie [Official website]
Young Lives on Hold: The College Dreams of Undocumented Students [College Board Report, 04/21/09]

Related Program: Lost in Translation [LMTV]

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