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Undocumented, unafraid

Students and faculty took part in an emotional discussion following the presentation of a movie about immigration and education last week, as part of Hispanic Heritage Month,

Various campus organizations and departments hosted a viewing of the 2017 documentary “The Unafraid” Sept. 26. The Intellectual and Cultural Activities Committee and the Education, Counseling, Leadership, History, International Studies and World Languages and Cultures departments all organized and supported the event.

The documentary follows the lives of three teenagers, all undocumented students fighting to get a college education. These three are all considered “Dreamers,” or children granted deferred action from deportation under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

Having lived in Georgia since they were young children, Alejandro, Lili and Aldo protest for change in the educational system while at the same time trying to get into college as undocumented students.

Before the film began, the lecture hall buzzed with energy as the voices of about 100 students bounced off the walls.

The lights dimmed, and a young man on screen spoke in Spanish.

Someone in the audience said aloud, “Is this thing in English?”

“God, I hope so,” another said.

The film detailed the struggles of pursuing higher education while undocumented. From being arrested for protesting, to crying in admissions interviews, to selling tacos out of a kitchen in order to afford one more credit hour, the three teenagers experienced every obstacle imaginable.

The film ended by displaying statistics. About 65,000 undocumented students graduate high school annually. Of those, only five to 10 percent get into college, and only one to two percent graduate college.

DACA was repealed in 2017, meaning students like the ones on screen face even greater risk when pursuing higher education.

After the documentary, several faculty members hosted a discussion, lead by assistant professor of Spanish Jennifer Barajas, associate professor of history Aurea Toxqui and assistant professor of English education Juan Ríos Vega.

“I saw a mix of surprise and [people] seeing things in a new light,” Barajas said. “But others were like, ‘Yeah, I went through this too.”

As a professor who has worked with undocumented students, Ríos Vega said it hit close to home.

“I was in tears watching [the documentary,]” Ríos Vega said. “I was thinking, ‘These are my students.’”

Some found the stories on screen mirrored their own experiences.

Sophomore political science and international studies major Ariana Galvez said the stories were familiar.

“I come from a community where a bunch of people experience, [and] I’ve experienced similar things,” Galvez said.

Others watched with gratitude. Junior biomedical science major Tola Adeyefa said she was thankful.

“Being able to just have the opportunity [at Bradley] to further our careers and further our status through education is incredible,” Adeyefa said. “I feel like a lot of people take our education for granted.”

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