Documented Screening

Paris Barraza, Raylene Camerano and Brody Salazar

@ParisBarraza @RayleneCamerano @Brody_Salazar

On Oct. 18, a screening and discussion of Jose Antonio Vargas’s "Documented" was hosted by the DREAMers’ Club in conjunction with the One Book, One College program as part of California Community Colleges' Undocumented Student Week of Action to encourage support for undocumented students and community members.

"Documented" follows the story of Vargas’s struggle as an undocumented American who left the Philippines at 12-years-old. The documentary highlights how Vargas is left to navigate the United State's immigration system as he advocates for reform, and reconnects with the family he left behind over 20 years ago.

His grandfather Lolo moved him to the United States without informing him that he was going to be an undocumented immigrant. Vargas was also not told that his mother would not be joining him, and he assumed she would come to America at a later point. The separation lasted over 20 years, and heavily impacted their relationship.

Their communication was strong when they were first separated, and Vargas wrote his mother letters about his life at school and how well he was doing. When he later realized that she was not following him to America, his letters and communication stopped.

When Vargas was 16-years-old, he learned he was an undocumented immigrant, but did not make it public until he watched YouTube videos of young immigrants fighting for the DREAM Act. After witnessing the bravery of the young students, he started writing his life's story in 2011 and it was later published in The New York Times.

Vargas, an already a well-known and established journalist, had been published in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post and many more publications. When he revealed his undocumented status, many people criticized him.

Vargas appeared on many news outlets saying he was just as American as the rest of the citizens of the United States. He claimed he worked hard in school, achieved recognition for his work as a journalist and paid taxes. Despite his claims, he was labeled as an illegal alien, and told to go back to his country.

Chaffey College English Professor Neil Watkins hosted the discussion segment after the screening and asked students to share what they learned. The attendees commented on what they learned from an educational and personal standpoint.

Students remarked on the constant fear of deportation and separation many undocumented Americans live with daily, along with the realization that the U.S. immigration process is not as easy as it is made to seem.

Watkins stated that there are an estimated two million undocumented Americans in California alone and 1,300 AB540 students currently attending Chaffey. For undocumented students, the AB540 Bill provides in-state tuition rates which would otherwise make higher education less attainable for many of these students.

DREAMers' Club President and Student Trustee Moises Rosales was in attendance for the screening, and shared his story as an undocumented American. Rosales stated that within his administration for student government, he “pushed for advocacy and engagement.”

Watkins provided those in attendance with pamphlets titled “How to be an Undocu-Ally” which listed different resources and ways to support these individuals. Light refreshments were provided, and students were reminded to register to vote if eligible.