On October 24th, participants of the USMF’s “1000 Dreamers-1000 Leaders” and “Dreamers Without Borders” programs, UCLA students and members of the local community gathered at the UCLA campus for the Los Angeles 1000 Dreamers-1000 Leaders Networking Reception, organized in collaboration with Startup UCLA and the university’s Academic Advancement Program. Over 80 people were in attendance at the event which featured a screening of the new, USMF supported documentary “Beyond Borders,” a panel discussion of the issues highlighted by the film and a networking reception to conclude the evening.
Jaime Balboa welcomes attendees to UCLA
Jaime Balboa, Assistant Vice Provost for External Partnerships at UCLA, welcomed the attendees to the reception on behalf of the University, noting his pleasure in collaborating with the USMF on the event and UCLA’s commitment to supporting Dreamer students and helping them succeed. Rebeca Vargas, President and CEO of the USMF thanked the guests for their attendance and extended a special welcome to the 1000 Dreamers-1000 Leaders mentors and Dreamers present at the event. In her remarks, she noted that “the USMF is proud of its support for Dreamers in the US and Mexico. We work to support and empower this community through programs like “1000 Dreamers-1000 Leaders,” a binational mentorship and professional development program for college aged Dreamers that connects these young students with professionals who can guide and support them to reach their full professional potential and “Dreamers Without Borders,” through which we work to reconnect young US based Dreamers with Mexico by organizing cultural and academic trips for Dreamers to their country of origin. I am very happy to have with us today participants of both these programs.” Ms. Vargas also spoke of the USMF’s work to raise awareness of the important issues impacting the community, for example, “by funding the production and organizing screenings, like this one, of “Beyond Borders” a timely and compelling new documentary that highlights the challenges and contributions of undocumented immigrants from Mexico in the United States.”
Rebeca Vargas speaks at the event
Following these welcome remarks, the attendees enjoyed a screening of “Beyond Borders,” a powerful new documentary, directed by Micah Fink, and produced by The Independent Production Fund (IPF), Editorial Clio and Fábrica de Cine, which presents an intimate look at the struggles, contributions and aspirations of undocumented Mexican-Americans and their families in the US.
After this screening, the guests enjoyed a panel discussion of the issues explored in “Beyond Borders” which featured Julissa Arce, whose story of rising through the ranks to VP at Goldman Sachs as an undocumented immigrant is featured in the film. The panel also included Dr. Linda Lopez, Chief of the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs of Los Angeles, as well as Karen Coronilla, Daysy Palma and Cristian de Nova, three Dreamer student leaders at UCLA. Dr. Lopez recognized the contributions of all immigrants to Los Angeles and spoke of the different ways the city works to support this community. The students on the panel discussed their reasons for “coming out of the shadows” as undocumented, saying it was a matter of reclaiming and asserting their identity which was inspired by the bravery of other Dreamers who had done the same and a commitment to empower those who follow.
An important theme of the conversation was professional development and the opportunities available under DACA. The young student Dreamers shared their professional aspirations with the attendees; Cristian wants a career in public health, Daysy in immigration law and Karen in community organizing, all with the intention of providing support to their community. Dr. Lopez spoke of the resources the City of Los Angeles provides to undocumented youth for professional development, mentioning, for example, the city’s “Step Forward” Program and Julissa gave the students encouragement and advice: “reaching your goals takes work, you need to believe in your own abilities and always be flexible. You are not defined by your immigration status, by pieces of paper. What defines you are your dreams and aspirations.”
An attendee asks a question to the panelists
Following the discussion panel and audience questions for the panelists, the attendees enjoyed the opportunity to meet and connect with their peers and professionals at the event during the evening’s networking reception.
The USMF is proud to support the Dreamer community through unique binational programs, by raising awareness of the key issues impacting the community and creating spaces and opportunities, such as the 1000 Dreamers-1000 Leaders Reception at UCLA for young Dreamers to network and connect with their peers and allies in the community.