by Tanvir Toy
If you ride the 7 train in Queens, New York, you see the faces of the new America. They are from almost every corner of the world. It’s amazing when you consider that 45 percent of the people who live in Queens were born in another country. For most of them the 7 train and Roosevelt Avenue below are the nerve centers of their lives.
My documentary video Undocumented Hope focuses on four young people who are typical of many you might see on the number 7. They were brought to the United States by their parents when they were very young. They always thought of themselves as American as they went to school, and on to college. Then they faced the fact that the political world considered them illegal immigrants without rights.
I made this video because I want people to know what it’s like to be undocumented. I wanted to prove that people had misconceptions about young people who feel as American as anyone.
Every undocumented young person has a unique story about their journey and why they can’t get a Green Card. But they share the same frustration about not being able to get on with their lives and come out of the shadows.
The images of Roosevelt Avenue, the 7 train and the subway system are symbolic images in the lives of the people I follow. The students ride in the open and underground often fearful that something will happen and they’ll be forced to leave the only country they know as home.
I hope that as you watch the video you’ll come to understand that students who are undocumented are just as American, ambitious, and intelligent as any one else.
Since the video was made, President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) has helped hundreds of thousands of young people gain a partial foothold. We received work permits and a temporary reprieve from the fear of deportation. But it is a temporary fix.
In the long run there still needs to be a solution for all those who were brought to the United States as young kids and were educated here.
Please feel free to email and leave questions or comments about the documentary.