When Wai Yim’s character was a child, his parents sought a new life in the United States. One where they could leave their blue-collar jobs and work towards the American dream. When their two-year visas were about to expire, they had to make a choice. They could go back to a country where they no longer had jobs, or they could stay and keep their family working toward the American dream. This young man’s story was one of many told during the Rose Theater and Immigrant Legal Center’s collaborative performance piece, “We Are DREAMers.”
Many young people in the United States today face the same situation. They were brought to the United States as children, sometimes not remembering anything about where they’re from. The performance of “We Are DREAMers” showed the impact the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has had on the lives of immigrant children.
“The power of theater is that it personalizes complex issues that may not have easy solutions,”
said the Artistic Director of The Rose Theater, Matt Gutschick, in the production’s press release. “This performance aims to give a voice to Dreamers, sharing their experiences, hopes, and fears in this time of uncertainty. We hope to reinforce with the audience the importance of keeping these passionate, hardworking, intelligent young people here in America, and providing them a pathway to citizenship.”
There are nearly 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants in the United States for whom DACA provides protection from deportation for a two-year period, subject to renewal.
“If I had five minutes with the president, with the head of immigration, with all of the folks responsible on capitol hill, I’d stare them down and say we are everything you want in the future,” the performers said. “People who are ambitious, people who are intelligent, people who are going to be loyal, people upholding the values and structure of our society.”
Following the performance, a panel was held to discuss the end of DACA and what it would mean for local DACA recipients.
Dania Cerbantes Ayala arrived to the United States at the age of six. After graduating from Omaha South High School, she received a full-ride scholarship to College of St. Mary, where she is in her senior year pursuing a Bachelor of Science in nursing and a Spanish minor.
“The end of DACA for me first and foremost would mean the the destruction of the dream I have,” Cerbantes Ayala said. “My parents sacrificed absolutely everything from their last dime and their lives to come to the Untied States, so with DACA ending it would just kind of be a slap in the face and a closed door. Because they gave everything to pursue the American dream for my little brother and I, that would be the first thing.”
Cerbantes Ayala has been working with oncology patients as a patient care technician at the Buffet Cancer Center for the past six months. She said that another impact of the DACA program ending is that she won’t be able to continue her education.
“This documentary shows what DACA is and it humanizes the word DACA. It is able to put a face to a term and for people to be able to understand that we are not just these extraordinary human beings,” Cerbantes Ayala said.