Engagement and Alliance-Building in the Undocumented Youth Movement

Undocumented immigrant youth have a unique role in constructing America’s identity. Representing more than just a demographic shift, these youth have made material contributions to the changing cultural landscape of the country. In Washington, DC youth activists from Many Languages One Voice are instrumental in crafting amendments to the DC Language Access Act of 2004. At Casa De Maryland, youth committees lead civil disobedience actions during Congressional Committee hearings. Engaging immigrant youth requires understanding their cultural arena including origin stories, family, gender, and ethnicity. The current national debate over comprehensive immigration reform and the legality of President Obama’s executive actions creates opportunities for alliance building and connecting communities. However, understanding the social composition of the District’s immigrant community, both historically and in the present­, is essential for such engagement. The session shall bring together District residents to discuss the changing nature of the community and provide an opportunity for participants to discuss education justice, language access, building alliances, and fostering growth within immigrant youth circles.


Andy Fernandez is a filmmaker and photographer based in Washington, DC. His short film Risers (2015) examines undocumented immigrant youth. His work has been featured in the Washington Post’s photography blog InSight (7/15), and will be in the Gateways (12/16), an exhibit on Latino migration organized by the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum.