Undocumented youth dream with music, without borders

By Danielle Charbonneau and Ana Gonzalez


Dreaming Sin Fronteras on stage in Denver, where the show originated. | Dreaming Sin Fronteras Facebook

Dreaming Sin Fronteras, which comes to the University of Southern California on Oct. 16, blends music, art and theater to explore the narratives of young people who call themselves “dreamers” — undocumented youth who dream big, but battle obstacles.

Approximately five million undocumented children and young adults live in the United States, and about a million of them live in California. Most of them have grown up in America their entire lives and consider themselves American. But without legal documentation, they are often unable to pursue higher education or legitimate employment. As of 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has helped some youth under thirty to work legally and avoid getting sent out of the U.S. — at least for two year-periods.

See also: Why I should get in-state tuition as an undocumented student

Still, many of these “dreamers” fear deportation and many are actively seeking a pathway to citizenship. (A version of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, has passed in California as well as in 14 others states, but has yet to meet federal approval. The California act assists undocumented students with financial aid.)

Dreaming Sin Fronteras explores their plight and asks: What does it mean to be an American? The show alternates between segments of live music and monologues based on true stories.

Hear from some of the people who will share their stories in an audio piece from Ampersand produced with Annenberg Radio News:

Show collaborators

Raul Pacheco of Ozomatli, Ceci Bastida and Shawn King of DeVotchKa are among the musical collaborators.

Denver and Los Angeles-based artists collaborated to create the music. Director Antonio Mercado joined forces with Shawn King of Denver-based band DeVotchKa, who connected him with members of the Flobots, Ozomatli, Dialated Peoples and solo artist Ceci Bastida. Together, the musicians have written some original songs for Dreaming Sin Fronteras, which will be recorded for a national album release. The performance at USC will also include students and Jose Julian, who appeared in the film “A Better Life.”

Visual designs by activist-artist Favianna Rodriguez will create a colorful backdrop for the performance. Audience members will have the opportunity to take photos in front of Rodriquez’s butterfly-inspired art piece called, “Migration is Beautiful.”

Dreaming Sin Fronteras is Thursday, Oct. 16 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Bovard Auditorium. Tickets are free, and reservations are strongly recommended

Additional reporting by Jiawei Wang

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