American Dreamer

  • Sam on Liberty Island, NY

American schools teach students that with hard work, they can realize their dreams. But some kids do everything right, only to graduate from high school and find the American Dream isn’t for them.

Sam was brought to the United States by his parents as a young child, but his family overstayed their visas. They’ve lived here now for fourteen years, and in that time Sam grew from a small boy to a young man — taught in American schools, and churches, he grew up like any other American kid. But it wasn’t until he was asked to fill in his social security number on a financial aid form that he began to realize the consequences of being undocumented.

We met Sam just before he graduated from high school and share his story. American Dreamer was produced with help from the Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media and the National Endowment for the Arts. It was recognized with an Edward R. Murrow award for Best National Radio Documentary, and a Third Coast International Audio Festival “Radio Impact” award.

We’re grateful to KCRW’s Independent Producers Fund, as well as longtime supporters and friends Katie Hangley and Howard Simon, for additional support of this work.