A new film premiering Wednesday at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus aims to shed light on a conversation immigration activists have had for years: how the “Dreamer” narrative is negatively impacting the sans community. -papers.
Karina Dominguez, 22, a political organizer, produced “Rejecting the Dreamer Narrative”, a documentary that focuses on this conversation and why the “Dreamer” story should be rejected
Dominguez’s film is a response to how Americans understand and talk about DACA recipients, “dreamers” and undocumented people, she told The Republic.
According to Dominguez, the narrative perpetuates exclusivity and exclusion among the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Those who fall under the “Dreamer” category represent a small percentage of the undocumented population.
The Foreign Minors Development, Assistance, and Education Act would have granted legal status to many undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. However, this bill and others like it have failed to pass through Congress for the past 20 years since it was first introduced in 2001.
The term would remain in how immigration policy is discussed.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is an Obama-era policy that grew out of the failure of the legislature to pass legislation.
Since June 2012, protection has provided young undocumented immigrants with a shield against deportation and work visas. Estimates from the National Forum on Immigration that there are 643,560 DACA recipients in the United States, out of a population of 1,326,000 who are eligible for DACA.
State of the Union: Supporters see urgency for immigration reform in Biden’s speech
Questioning the archetype of the “good immigrant”
Arizona is home to 23,070 DACA recipients, according to 2021 USCIS data.
Dominguez, graduating from ASU in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in sustainability, became frustrated with the conversations surrounding “Dreamers” and how it reflected the support the university offered undocumented students.
“While I was a student, I often came across scholarships that would be proud to accept applications from ‘Dreamers’. Most of the time these ‘Dreamers’ were just DACA recipients and not students without DACA-free papers,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said the “Dreamer” narrative has created a support gap that she wants to shed some light on.
“Many politicians and activists view the fight for the ‘Dreamers’ as an easy fight. They are not putting effort and resources into the fight for the current 11 million undocumented immigrants and those who will be in the future,” she said.
Dominguez seeks to refocus the conversation in the pro-immigration movement with this film. The goal, she said, is to create a more inclusive way of talking about immigrants, with more dimension, within the movement. She imagines a movement that “protects everyone and does not perpetuate the good against the bad narrative of migrants”.
Dominguez produced this film as a Creative Fellow for Fuerte Arts Movement, an Arizona-based nonprofit organization that works at the intersection of art and advocacy.
Xenia Orona, co-executive director of Fuerte, said her organization strives to tell stories from the community to promote a better future for Black, Indigenous and people of color in Arizona.
Many members of Fuerte, such as Dominguez, were involved in the political organizing of the immigrant rights movement. Dominguez currently works in Fuerte as a Climate Justice Program Manager.
“Karina’s film directly questions the effectiveness of creating a ‘good immigrant’ archetype in our broader culture of immigrant rights, and whether it’s time to move from that archetype to a strategy of more inclusive organization,” Orona said. “It aligns with our values as an organization because we understand that we all lose when we leave members of our community behind.”
A conversation by and for the community
Along with the screening of her film, Dominguez partnered with ASU’s Undocumented Student Club for Educational Equity to host a panel discussion on the topic.
Salma Ortiz Diaz, one of the panelists, is the Advocacy Director at USEE and is featured in Dominguez’s documentary.
Her involvement in the film came from her work alongside Dominguez in immigrant advocacy work.
“She was such an incredible influence within the migrant movement,” Ortiz said. “‘Rejecting the Dreamer Narrative’ is a conversation that local migrant organizers had. Karina wanted to bring this conversation to life.”
Ortiz felt it was his duty to share his perspective and knowledge in the film. Her own work focuses on the spatial inclusiveness of migrant movements.
“As a DACA recipient, I have so many privileges. I can admit that I did absolutely nothing to earn my status except being in the right place at the right time,” Ortiz said. “The Migrant Movement must focus on who else we can include in immigration reform, not exclude.”
She said USEE at ASU is working to bring that inclusiveness to campus and fill in some of the gaps created by current immigration policy.
“At USEE, we do our best to keep an open mind by having difficult conversations and finding solutions,” Ortiz said.
The “Dreamer” narrative conversation is one that Dominguez seeks to spark in the community.
“People in Arizona should watch this movie to understand that even if you use the term (‘Dreamer’) and the narrative with good intentions, it hurts the community. To be good allies, it’s important to stay educated and to listen to those who are directly affected,” said Dominguez.
Screening: “Rejecting the dreamer’s story”
The screening will take place Wednesday, March 2 at ASU’s Tempe Campus in the Memorial Union Building at 301 E Orange St., Tempe, AZ 85281, in Room Pima 230 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
A round table will follow the premiere of the film in the same room. The panel will include Dominguez, Ortiz and other community members.
The event is open to the general public. You can register on this link.
Wednesday’s premiere is organized by Fuerte Arts Movement and ASU’s Undocumented Student Club for Education Equity.