A Dreamer’s Reality

A Brown alum’s documentary examines the diverse experiences of DACA recipients


When President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program in September 2017, Brown alum St. Clair Detrick-Jules felt compelled to take action. The daughter of an Afro-Caribbean immigrant, Detrick-Jules grew up with immigrants from all over the world in a diverse neighborhood of Washington, DC.

“I knew many members of my community would be affected,” says Detrick-Jules, “and I wanted to do something to help. I think part of being an ally is elevating the voices of those who are oppressed, and so I figured I’d create a documentary featuring the stories of
DACA recipients.”

Detrick-Jules began filming DACAmented, a 36-minute documentary about nine DACA recipients, from Mexico and El Salvador to Zambia and South Korea.

Like the young people Detrick-Jules profiles, DACA recipients come from many countries, and their fate under the Trump administration has become increasingly uncertain. DACA was introduced in 2012 by President Obama to curtail deportations of undocumented young people brought to the United States as children. Though it does not provide a pathway to citizenship, the status is renewable every two years. Its recipients – often referred to as the Dreamers, after the 2011 Dream Act – are eligible for benefits such as work permits, and even in-state tuition rates in some states.

Still, Dreamers face a precarious future. Several of the young people in Detrick-Jules’s documentary are students, including the first undocumented student to be accepted into Brown’s medical school. One Dreamer is disabled and does not qualify for
health insurance.

While DACAmented presents the challenges of young Dreamers, it also spotlights their resolve and the diversity of
undocumented experiences.

“I’m really happy that the people who agreed to be interviewed for DACAmented are so diverse because intersectionality is important,” says Detrick-Jules, emphasizing the importance of giving queer and disabled immigrants a platform.

It is important to recognize, too, that DACA is an imperfect solution.

“There are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States,” Detrick-Jules points out, and DACA currently covers less than 10 percent of this population.

Ultimately, Detrick-Jules hopes to humanize the Dreamers, and to inspire people to build coalitions and work together for change in immigration policy. “There’s power in numbers and in solidarity,” she says. “Liberation is collective.”  DACAmented will be screening at SENE Film, Music & Arts Festival on April 26 at the Rhodywood Studio in Providence.