By Susan MacLaury

As you know, last week was an important one for Shine because our documentary, INOCENTE, aired on MTV on Friday.  But last Wednesday was much more important.  That was the day that tens of thousands of Dreamers stood in line for hours to apply for protection  through President Obama’s Deferred Action program

This stopgap measure doesn’t provide a path to citizenship but does prevent the risk of deportation for individuals under the age of 30 who have lived in the US for 5 consecutive years, are currently in school or graduated from high school, earned a GED, or served in the armed services, who have no convictions for felonies or serious misdemeanors.

It was President Obama’s effort to stem the deportations of young Latinos in the wake of the congressional defeat of The Dream (Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors) Act of 2011.

The DREAM Act was first proposed in 2001 by Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT).   It would have provided conditional permanent residency to undocumented persons of good moral character who graduated from U.S. high schools, arrived in the United States as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment.  If they were to complete two years in the military or two years at a four-year institution of higher learning they would obtain temporary residency for a six-year period. Within the six-year period, they could qualify for permanent residency if they had “acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or [had] completed at least 2 years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the United States” or had “served in the armed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, [have] received an honorable discharge.  This bill would have included illegal immigrants as old as 35 years of age.

It has subsequently been proposed in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011, with variations that ultimately lowered the age limit to 29, and required individuals to have entered the US before the age of 15.  Ultimately its failure at the federal level left states to consider passing their own versions of the legislation, with California doing so in 2011.

INOCENTE tells the story of a 15-year old homeless, undocumented artist by the same name who, with her mother and 3 younger brothers, has moved in and out of 25 shelters in San Diego since her father was deported for domestic violence when she was 6.  Inocente and her brothers could be the poster children for The Dream Act. The film illustrates graphically how limited the options are for families that are undocumented.  Try as hard as they will, their status severely limits their chances to succeed or create stability for their families.   Fortunately, the Izucar family portrayed in INOCENTE has been able to obtain VISAs and are protected from deportation as they continue on their path to citizenship.

But as we saw last Wednesday, there is so much more to be done, so many young adults with dreams and talents and the desire to become full citizens in the country to which they were brought as children.  The President’s act is a step in the direction of protection of young people and Shine wants to applaud all of the Dreamers who took this step.  INOCENTE was made for young adults like yourselves and we hope it plays a role in improving your lives.

Learn more about the film INOCENTE at

For more information about deferred action and how to apply visit The New York State Youth Leadership Council