Many attendees at last week’s launch of the Televisa Foundation’s new campaign, Piensalo (Think About It), have something in common; much of the audience at the event grew up as undocumented immigrants. Attendees shared stories about their fears of deportation and their struggles to find opportunities. It wasn’t until the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — which, as of 2012, allows undocumented young people who meet specific guidelines to be considered for deferred action — that their futures began to change.
“The plight of undocumented young people is one of the most important Civil Rights issues of our time,” said Assistant Professor Roberto Gonzales, who hosted the event co-sponsored by HGSE. Gonzales, a leading expert on undocumented immigrant youth and young adults, explained that many undocumented teenagers go through their lives participating in the “normal” experiences of growing up until the point when their peers begin to get driver’s licenses and apply to college. “These young people are unable to participate in many adult offerings,” he said.
While DACA helped change the lives of more than 400,000 by allowing undocumented young people who registered for the program to apply for work permits, driver’s licenses, and financial aid, many who qualify are still not taking advantage. There is an estimated 1.4 to 1.9 million young people eligible to apply to DACA, but, to date, only about 600,000 have actually done so, said Gonzales.
Launched last year, the Televisa Foundation is a nonprofit organization, grown from Grupo Televisa — a leading media group in the Spanish-speaking world, focused on education and culture. The idea for the Piensalo (Think About It) campaign came about when the president of Televisa Foundation, Alicia Lebrija, met Gonzales at a White House briefing regarding DACA and was sure that her organization could help.
Through Spanish- and English-language PSAs and social media, Piensalo (Think About It) shares inspiring stories of undocumented young people who have received DACA eligibility and how it has impacted their lives. The campaign will begin airing in November with the goal of informing and inspiring potential DACA beneficiaries and their families to consider applying or reapplying, and to provide updated information by connecting them with educational, financial, legal, and other resources.
“It’s impossible not to feel something deeply when you see the stories of the people in the videos,” said Alejandro Villanueva, director of the Televisa Foundation.
The 12 young DACA beneficiaries featured in the PSAs were chosen by the Televisa Foundation through solicited submissions to represent a range of stories from around the United States. The young people share stories of hope ranging from becoming a scientist or a musician to being able to work regular hours and spend time with their children. Eight of the 12 young people profiled attended the event and spoke to the audience about DACA and the campaign.
“The reason I chose to participate is growing up there was a point where you hide yourself…,” said Sandra Y. Sandoval, one of the 12 young people featured in the announcements. “I think many reach the conclusion that you can’t always live in fear.”