In 2013, Emerson Collective partnered with Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim to tell the stories of four undocumented “Dreamers” whose lives hinged on the passing of immigration reform. If it passed, the bipartisan Dream Act would provide hardworking young immigrants with the opportunity to earn a path to U.S. citizenship. If it didn’t, their fates in this country would remain entirely uncertain.

Ola works in a university lab researching more effective cancer treatments, but faces possible deportation. Alejandro has everything it takes to be a Marine—except a social security number. Jose has a degree in mechanical engineering, but his diploma gathers dust while he works construction. Erika is a leader of the national Dreamer movement, but lives in constant fear of her family being deported. While each of these young people are unique in their achievements, their stories—and those of thousands of others—are the same.

Ultimately the Dream Act passed in the Senate 68-32, but it failed to pass in the House of Representatives, with no further legislative reform in sight.

In 2012, President Obama stepped in. Seeing extraordinary potential in welcoming young immigrants as contributors to society, the president established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The temporary stopgap allowed undocumented young people brought here as children to apply for college, receive financial aid, obtain drivers licenses, apply for jobs, and more. It also provided momentary relief from the constant fear of deportation.

This month Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham reintroduced a version of the Dream Act to provide hardworking undocumented immigrants the chance to earn citizenship. Until permanent legislation is enacted, the potential of thousands of young people like Ola, Alejandro, Jose, and Erika, hang in the balance.

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