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Luis Saavedra, Melissa García Vélez, and Marlen Fernández were among the cofounders of the Lehman College DREAM Team, the first official group organized by and specifically for undocumented students at the City University of New York (CUNY). From their first semester on campus, until they graduated in 2014, Luis, Melissa, and Marlen worked tirelessly on campus, around the city, regionally, and at the federal level, demanding better services for undocumented students at the college and throughout the CUNY system, while also helping college and high school students mobilize on their own campuses. They engaged with national activist groups and debates, and remained centrally involved in the New York State Young Leadership Council (NYSYLC), an organization Melissa had joined between high school and college. The three students consider themselves part of the “undocumented, unafraid, and unapologetic” movement, and, along with many other undocumented youth, they “came out of the shadows” to declare their immigration status as they became active in the immigrant youth organizing movement.


This is the accepted manuscript of an article originally published in NACLA Report on the Americas, available at



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