UWD was founded in 2008 by a small core group of 7 immigrant youth organizations. Today, it has become the largest national immigrant youth-led organization in the country, representing 52 immigrant youth-led organizations from 25 states. Our growth in membership has expanded our reach to over 5,000 immigrant youth leaders in the country, including states where immigrant youth organizing was previously non-existent, like Alabama and Mississippi.
In 2011, we solidified a regional organizing infrastructure comprised of eight regions: New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Mid-South, Midwest, Mid-North, Northwest, and Southwest. With this regional infrastructure in place, we trained 1,200 immigrant youth leaders on organizing and advocacy through regional trainings, national meetings, and a National Congress. Our organizing and advocacy efforts have kept the plight of undocumented immigrant youth alive in the media and the immigration policy discourse. Our collective work in educating policymakers and the American public about the injustices faced by undocumented immigrant youth and their families pushed Congress to vote on the DREAM Act in 2010.
UWD leaders organized and advocated for administrative relief for undocumented immigrant youth through the “Right to Dream” Campaign. In the midst of record-high deportations, state-level anti-immigrant laws, and the implementation of inhumane enforcement programs, we held dozens of actions around the country, mobilized thousands of immigrant youth, conducted legal research, and brought together leaders from the labor, civil rights, and faith sectors to ask the Obama Administration to stop detaining and deporting immigrant youth. As a result of our work, on June 15th, 2012, President Obama announced that the Department of Homeland Security would grant temporary relief from deportation for eligible undocumented youth through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
In 2012, the United We Dream Network coordinated its first civic engagement campaign to encourage active participation of our affiliates and engagement in community, civic, and political life in Texas, Maryland, Arizona, and Wisconsin, collecting over 16,000 registered voters pledges across the four states.
United We Dream is now focused on winning citizenship for our entire community through our “11 Million Dreams” campaign, sharing our stories and the stories of our parents in order to change the narrative and insist on immigration reform that doesn’t leave anyone out. We are working to expose the pain that excessive enforcement and detention cause in our communities and mobilizing Latino voters.