The NYSYLC is the first undocumented youth led organization in New York. We work to empower immigrant youth to drop the fear attached to undocumented status and challenge the United States’ broken immigration system through leadership development, grassroots organizing, educational advancement, and self-expression. Our goal is clear: to give undocumented youth the tools and space to organize and create change in our communities.

Interested in becoming a member? Email us at info@nysylc.org.


According to a study conducted by the Migration Policy Institute, there are more than 765,000 undocumented students from ages 13-18 who arrived to the U.S. before the age of 16, about 65,000 of whom graduate high school annually. In New York alone, an estimated 3,500 undocumented students graduate state high schools each year. But due to tremendous financial obstacles - undocumented students are barred from accessing federal financial aid - only 5-10% of these students are able to pursue a college degree. Besides education inequality, undocumented youth face barriers to work legally, experience isolation and xenophobia from their U.S. born peers, and many live in constant fear of deportation.  

Within this context, in 2005-2006, immigrant rights organizations in New York convened to discuss organizing strategies to support the federal DREAM Act, a bill that would have created a pathway to citizenship for qualifying undocumented youth. Out of these meetings, a core group of undocumented youth realized the need to create their own organization in order to articulate and advocate for the unique demands of NY undocumented youth, and to build undocumented-led spaces for empowerment and expression outside of policy advocacy alone.

Since our founding in 2007, we have worked to support and mobilize undocumented youth in New York through innovative leadership development opportunities and grassroots organizing experience. We pioneered “Coming Out of the Shadows” rallies as spaces for undocumented youth to share their stories; formed and supported DREAM Teams, hubs for undocu-organizing and college-specific advocacy, at colleges across NYC; and led national and state advocacy initiatives to raise awareness among public officials and the general population of the needs of undocumented youth while agitating for structural changes, as seen through our drafting of the New York State DREAM Act in 2011. Most recently, in 2014 we hosted trainings for city DREAM Team members, forming the DREAM Team Network and partnering to host the first annual Immigrant Youth Empowerment Conference in May at NYU. In October, our members and leaders of the NYU DREAM Team successfully launched a university-wide pilot program to award financial aid to undocumented NY applicants.