We are an undocumented immigrant youth-led organization that advocates for the rights of undocumented immigrants to live lives free from exploitation and persecution.
Orange County Immigrant Youth United (OCIYU), formerly known as Orange County Dream Team (OCDT), is an undocumented immigrant youth-led organization based out of Orange County, California that advocates for the rights of undocumented immigrants to live lives free from exploitation and persecution.
OCIYU was born out of the community’s profound need to help its talented undocumented youth obtain access to higher education. Established in 2004, the group began with a small but diverse group of high school, college, and university students united under a common goal of passing the DREAM and Student Adjustment Acts.
In recent years, OCIYU played prominent roles in the 2010 campaign for the federal DREAM Act, and the successful 2011 campaign for the California DREAM Act. OCIYU was an early champion of the Administrative Relief Campaign (later renamed Right to Dream) which resulted in the policy of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Over the years the scope of our work expanded from student issues to broader issues affecting the undocumented community. In 2012 and 2013, OCIYU heavily invested time and resources into the successful campaigns for Drivers Licenses and the California TRUST Act. We have also played leading roles in the Not1More Deportation Campaign at the local and national levels, and began building community awareness and education around the need for better health care access in the undocumented community.
On top of this advocacy work, OCIYU has also provided direct services to the Orange County community in the form of free Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legal clinics, as well as a myriad of educational workshops on access to higher education, pending legislation, existing policies affecting the undocumented community, and intersectional identity organizing. OCIYU also provides one of the few nationwide scholarship awards programs managed by undocumented immigrant youth for undocumented students and allies. Every year we award multiple scholarships of $500 to Continuing College and Graduate students and $200 to graduating High school Students. Over the last three years we have awarded a total of $11,500 in scholarships through grassroots fundraising events.
Most recently, OCIYU was an active participant of the #Not1More Deportation Campaign. At the state level we are organizing around the #Health4All Campaign to make healthcare more accessible to undocumented people in the state of California, and at the local level we are part of the ICE Out of OC Campaign.
OCIYU is invested in maintaining a robust leadership pipeline to develop new young, undocumented capable of effecting cultural and political change toward full inclusion of undocumented immigrants into the community and away from policies of suppression and persecution.
In addition, OCIYU provides resources to the undocumented community at large. These include financial aid workshops for high school and college students and parents, informational workshops and forums on AB 60 for driver’s licenses and Administrative Relief, as well as DACA application assistance. OCIYU provides scholarships to undocumented students nationwide, and have given over $23,000 in scholarships since 2011.
OCIYU actively participates in advocacy campaigns at the local, state, and national levels to advance the rights of undocumented immigrants. These include individual deportation defense campaigns for residents in deportation proceedings, and larger efforts to achieve systemic change in the immigration enforcement system. OCIYU also organizes to increase undocumented immigrant’s access to resources. In the past this took in the form of advocating for the California DREAM Act and Administrative Relief. Currently OCIYU is committed to advocate for full health care access. Campaign strategies are developed and implemented by members and staff, and rely on community mobilizing.
OCIYU is an active leader at the national and state levels. It was a strong advocate for the founding of the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, and remains one of the most active participants in shaping CIYJA’s organizing campaigns and organizational development. OCIYU is also the only locally-based immigrant youth-led organization in the national Not1More Deportation Campaign‘s strategy table, where it is especially active in shaping and pushing the Campaign’s communications strategy, and along with other campaign members helped found Mijente to carry out and support grassroots Latinx organizing.
OCIYU is fiscally sponsored by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). MALDEF has a long history of supporting immigrant youth organizing and leadership development. With almost 50 years of experience, and as a key stakeholder in the immigrant rights movement, MALDEF’s partnership allows OCIYU to amplify the voices of Orange County’s undocumented immigrant youth. With its policy and legal expertise, MALDEF provides OCIYU with legal support and strategic advise when organizing advocacy campaigns. As OCIYU continues to grow, establish a strong infrastructure, and secure grants, MALDEF is committed to provide fiscal sponsorship and other forms of support to ensure a successful implementation of OCIYU’s mission to advocate for the rights of undocumented immigrants through undocumented youth-led organizing.