So reads the dedication for Illegal, a short documentary film on the hardships faced by young men and women who, despite living in the United States for much of their lives, are still denied the legal right to remain in the country.
Directed by John X. Carey and produced by Curry Glassell, Illegal highlights the lives of undocumented college students facing uncertain futures.
Leticia is double majoring at the University of Houston and will graduate magna cum laude. “I didn’t take out any loans, either,” she asserts. “I worked since I was 16.”
Eric came to the United States when he was only five years old. Now he’s enrolled at Harvard and wants to pursue a career in cellular biology.
“They did not take that first step,” explains Illinois Rep. Luis Gutiérrez. “How does a five-year-old get held responsible for a criminal act?”
Mario is studying mathematics and statistics at Stephen F. Austin.
“A lot of these kids had no choice about whether they would come here,” says Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. “They found themselves in the United States at the age of two or three. The only country they know is our country.”
Eddy, a graduate student at the University of Texas, was arrested and held at an immigration camp for 45 days.
Father Martin Elsner argues, “If you treat these young people, who live their whole life – except maybe a year or two – in the United States, and you reject them, and you make them go back to a country they don’t know – you take them out of a culture they love and contribute to through their education, through being in the service. Well, it’s a mystery how a Christian, who says ‘I am a Christian,’ can be so harsh.”
Illegal, while short, still strikes at the heart of the issue. If America’s immigration law makes criminals out of hardworking members of our communities, if it keeps kids who have grown up the United States from receiving a college education, if it restricts such people from pursuing the careers they were meant to pursue, then America’s immigration law is unjust.
Passage of the DREAM Act would be a great first step in undoing some of the injustice.