REAL Drama

Sam King

[This week, we welcome a contribution from guest blogger, Sam King, of Project Real. Project Real is a project funded in part by a grant from Nevada Humanities.]

REAL Drama, a Project REAL program provides a unique venue for middle and high school students to study current issues and then form educated opinions on the subject matter rather than ones based on lunch room conversation or hearsay.

This year, our first staging of Home Is Where The Heart Is…Or Is It?, a drama we have been performing over the last four years, was on October 10, 2013, at Del Webb Middle School in Henderson, Nevada. Our cast performed for 650 students who were studying immigration in their Geography classes. The students have studied the history of American immigration from 1789 to the present. The students may be immigrants themselves. The play introduces the topic of what happens to a family of mixed immigration status going through the “system” including Homeland Security investigation and Immigration Court.

Home Is Where The Heart Is…Or Is It? dramatizes a situation that could happen to the students themselves. The reality and dilemma facing the Lopez family in the play gives a foundation for the audience to ask follow-up questions to our volunteer immigration attorney, Rex Velasquez.

(Rex Velasquez answering Del Webb Middle School Student questions, such as: “My sister was not born in the United States. She was born when we were on vacation in England. Could she be deported?" and "I really like my nanny, but she does not speak English and I think she was born in Mexico. Could she be deported?”)

Rex Velasquez has been a REAL Drama volunteer immigration attorney for the past three years. He has experience on both sides of the immigration issue, working for immigration services for the federal government and now as a defense attorney for immigration cases.

Over the years, the play has had to evolve and incorporate updates to immigration policy. Last year we added information on Deferred Action for young adults who are undocumented and wish to remain in the United States.  This year we will make note of the ability for undocumented individuals to obtain a Driver’s Privilege Card and purchase insurance as a result of action taken by the 2013 Nevada Legislature. This legislation will require that the play change regarding how the family becomes part of the system.

Immigration remains a very controversial topic in the United States, with very strong opinions held by citizens on all sides of the issues. Some believe that our country was created to welcome people from around the world, along with their cultures, beliefs, and talents, and the U.S. has expanded as a result. Others argue that we are not able to take care of all the people who are born here – just look at the high rate of poverty and, more recently, the high rates of unemployment. Some people look at the increased costs caused by millions of illegal aliens in our country, particularly in the areas of education and health care. Remember that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that all children are entitled to an education and anyone needing medical help can go to a hospital to receive care.  Others point to the increased prison costs and extra need for border agents. No one, on either side of the issue, denies that the consequences of undocumented aliens is a divisive political and social issue in America today. Our dramatization gives a scenario to work from and provides a forum for discussion. The curriculum presents the history of immigration policy, and the open end to the play underscores the need for immigration reform. What we see now with the revisions to the play is not reform, but rather policy, which leads to more questions. Hopefully the federal government will pass immigration reform soon. It is long overdue.