Every year, about 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high schools across the U.S. Of them, just 10 percent enroll in college. That low number just slightly illustrates the difficulty undocumented communities face getting into higher education. Those who do reach the ivory tower then experience a plethora of other issues, including finance troubles, fear of deportation and a sense of isolation. Fusion’s latest documentary, The Naked Truth: Undocumented on Campus, takes a deeper look at the plight of undocumented college students.
The hour-long film, narrated by Jackie Cruz, follows 10 months of a 20-year-old’s journey as a first-year undocumented student. While on campus, the young scholar, Jose, learns that his mother is going to Mexico, a country he can't visit as an undocumented immigrant if he wants to remain in the U.S.
"It's so hard knowing that I won't see her anytime soon. I wish I could have said goodbye to her. I wish I could have given her a hug, but it wasn't possible," he says in an exclusive clip of the documentary. “The moment is just hard. … Even though she was in another state, I knew there was chances of going and seeing her on break. But now it's not another state; it's another country. And it's impossible for me to be able to see her and come back.”
Cruz, who was born in Queens, New York to Dominican parents, said Jose’s story resonated with her.
“I’m first-generation American. Now, with this political climate, the American Dream kind of feels impossible for some people like us, people who come from immigrant families, people who are immigrants. We have a big part in this country,” she said. “We play a big role in this country. Right now, more than ever, we just need to be united.”
The actress is using the platform she has received by starring in the hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black to raise awareness of the issues impacting people like Jose, and millions of others like him and his family throughout the country.
“I think it’s really important for people like us – people who come from immigrant families, people who have seen it, have faced it – to tell our stories, just so we know that we’re not alone,” she said.
"The Naked Truth: Undocumented on Campus" debuts on Fusion TV on June 18 at 9 p.m. Watch an exclusive clip of the documentary below.