DoSomething’s “Undocumented For a Day” Campaign Offers Scholarships, But Not For DREAMers

Jun 8, 2013
2:39 PM

We received the following Tumblr post last night from Bare-Life. The author describes a new campaign that asks people to be “undocumented for a day.” As the site says: “Send your friends this experience to show them the challenges of being undocumented (i.e. living with no citizenship). You’ll qualify for a $3,000 scholarship.” We applaud DoSomething for creating such a major campaign, however, as the author explains in her post below, undocumented DREAMers are not eligible for the scholarships being offered. It seems like someone might want to rethink the campaign’s rules and focus, since we think it is a good one to have, yet the optics right now are a bit off. It also raises several important issues that we hope the undocumented youth community can discuss openly. Let the author explain below:


A major political ‘awareness’ website, DoSomething, has launched a campaign where you can play a game pretending to be an undocumented immigrant. The game was made in conjunction with a major corporatized immigration reform non-profit, Reform Immigration for America.

By pretending you are an undocumented immigrant in a virtual simulation, you may be entered into a $3000 scholarship drawing. Sounds like a good way to raise awareness about immigration reform, right?

Wrong. The scholarship is only open to US citizens and legal residents.

On top of that, three famous undocumented activists have let their names and stories be used to give a face to the campaign. I am currently arguing with one about how it is unethical to use our experiences in a ridiculous virtual simulation when we could be financing and supporting REAL UNDOCUMENTED PEOPLE.

I need you to go to this campaign’s site and give them a piece of your mind. Email them at This is the email I sent to them:

I’m an undocumented youth activist and I find your scholarship contest to be incredibly disrespectful. You are giving US citizens and legal residents who have many opportunities in the first place a chance at scholarship funding which could go towards undocumented residents. As an immigrant student without papers, I have had to move heaven and earth to graduate from the University of Texas- Austin. While you may feature many undocumented activists’ and their stories, you are exploiting their struggle to benefit and reward those who will never deal with these issues directly. Please do not continue this poverty voyeurism. I do not need allies patting themselves on the back for pretending to be in my shoes, for dealing with fake scenarios that do not mean life or death to them. I have faced enormous economic struggle and violence, and I am incredibly discouraged by your campaign because I do not think awareness is a fair enough trade off. You need to encourage action, and stop glorifying allies for simply pretending in a computer game!! Or at least find a way to finance undocumented students and support them. A few people becoming more aware does not do us any good. We are already at the point where immigration reform will be a reality. We need proper support, and not exploitative, tokenizing treatment.


You can email them here: