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'The Dream is Now': A new documentary lets DREAMers tell their stories

Documentaries have sometimes played a powerful role in shaping public opinion.
Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim.
Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim.

Documentaries have sometimes played a powerful role in shaping public opinion. Now, as immigration reform moves into the national spotlight, filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth,” “Waiting for Superman”) is releasing an interactive documentary advocating the passage of the federal DREAM Act.

“How many of us had parents, grandparents, great-grandparents who came here without documents? These kids came when they were young,’” he told msnbc’s Alex Wagner. “They didn’t choose to come here. And when they sat in the classroom and they learned about America, they bought into it more than any of us.”

The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) is a bill that has not been passed. It would provide a path to legal status through college and military service for young people who meet certain requirements and were brought to the United States as children.

Guggenheim's documentary, titled “The Dream is Now,” aims to put a face on the undocumented young people in America who are stuck without a legal path to citizenship. “We want to keep these people,” he said. “We want to keep them as ours. And what I do in this video is I show that if you add the math up, it’s good for all of us. It means that our country has more money, these people are paying taxes. And it just gets it done.”

After the DREAM Act failed in Congress last year, Obama announced an executive action allowing some children of undocumented workers, or “DREAMers,” to stay in the country. The action halted some deportation proceedings for those under age 30 who are still in school, have graduated, or served in the military, but it didn’t give them permanent legal status.

The Pew Research Hispanic Center estimates that about 1.4 million “DREAMers” could take advantage of this policy, about 12% of their estimated 11.2 million undocumented people inside the country.

The Dream is Now” film is part of a campaign launched by Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs’ widow. “DREAMers” are invited to take action by writing their own story, uploading photos, and signing a petition. Their website is already full of submissions.

The Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, estimates that 2.1 million young people could take advantage of the DREAM Act’s passage. They write that contributions from the young people allowed to stay could add $329 billion to the U.S. economy and would create 1.4 million new jobs by 2030.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently expressed support for children of immigrants on Meet The Press. “I have put out a proposal,” he told NBC’s David Gregory. “I don't know what The Dream Act, at this point, is. What I say is we've got a place I think all of us can come together, and that is for the kids.”