Started as a project to help raise awareness about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an album titled American Dreamers could soon turn into a Grammy-winning effort. The album, led by jazz artist John Daversa and featuring more than 50 DACA recipients, has received three 2019 Grammy Award nominations.
For clarinet player Salvador Perez Lopez, the project was particularly life-changing. Not only is his music being featured on a major studio album, he’s also revealing his undocumented status for the first time, saying that he “never told” his friends about his immigration status. “Now that I post about the album on my Facebook, people are like, ‘I didn’t know you were a dreamer.’”
Daversa, who is also an educator, worked with nonprofits to find the young immigrants, teaming up 53 DACA recipients with professional musicians to create the album. “We had to stop the recording sessions several times,” producer Kabir Sehgal told HLN, “because we were in tears.”
While the courts have blocked the Trump administration’s move to rescind DACA, it only buys some precious time, because as long as there’s no permanent legislation, young immigrants like Salvador will continue to remain in limbo. They and their families deserve a chance to stay.
“We don’t need to build walls, we’re already the greatest nation on Earth, we’re already the strongest place on Earth,” said DACA recipient and singer Daniella Santos Vieira. “We don’t need to be afraid of people just because they’re different. I think if they love this country, and they want to have a shot at the promise of America, we should give them that chance.”