By Linah Munem
Students and faculty members gathered in the Mayo Concert Hall on Tuesday Oct. 23, to watch the documentary “Papers – Stories of Undocumented Youth.”
“Papers” outlines several courageous men and women who were willing to risk their lives, as well as their families’ lives, to share their stories.
Those who were willing to speak out in the film all live debilitating lifestyles without the correct “papers” — hence the title of the documentary.
Despite their assimilation to the American culture and for many, outstanding grades in high school, the undocumented youth find it difficult to go on to higher education.
Many dream of becoming professionals but eventually lose hope in the process because of their undocumented status. Without the correct papers, it is almost impossible to attend an affordable college and acquire a well-paying job.
Writer and director of the film, Anne Galisky, attended the presentation having flown all the way from her home state of Oregon.
According to Galisky, “Papers” was inspired by the interactions Galisky and her partner had with several undocumented youth that they mentored.
“We said all the things we needed to say, like: stay in school, stay out of trouble, work hard, and they said, ‘Well that’s all fine but, when we graduate, our life is over,’” Galisky said.
Galisky’s company, Graham Street Productions, recently released a book, “Papers,” with the personal stories of 30 undocumented individuals ranging in age from 10 to 32 in order to further spread awareness.
New Jersey resident, Rutgers University alumnus, and activist of the New Jersey Dream Act Coalition, Marisol Conde-Hernandez experienced the burdens of being an undocumented youth first hand.
“I could only afford to eat once a day … and I was forced to pay my own tuition bill,” she said, “I paid (them) out of pocket, at double the rate most of you pay.”
According to Conde-Hernandez, undocumented youth currently get charged out-of-state tuition regardless of whether or not they live in state.
To reverse this issue, Conde-Hernandez and thousands of undocumented youth will band together through the Dream Act Coalition to fight for higher education and the rights of immigrants across the country.
The Bonner Center, the FSP Program, the Cultural and Intellectual Community Program Council, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, the School of Arts and Communications, the Department of World Language and Cultures, the Spanish Club and Sigma Delta Pi worked together to make the showing of “Papers” possible.
They helped in successfully spreading awareness of the issue of undocumented youth in the U.S. to the College community.
According to Tommi Granados, a freshman mechanical engineering major, he was greatly impacted by the documentary and felt it directly related to his own life.
“It was kind of personal because I am a Mexican-American and I do live in a place like Dover where a lot of undocumented people are,” he said. “Its something I am surrounded by … you grow up with it and think everyone is illegal but when you watch (“Papers”) you realize this is a big deal.”