Mission

The NYSYLC was the first undocumented youth led organization in New York. We work to empower immigrant youth through leadership development, grassroots organizing, educational advancement, and self-expression. Our goal is 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.

History

In New York there is an estimated 3,500 undocumented students who graduate high school each year. But due to financial obstacles - undocumented students are barred from accessing federal financial aid - so, 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 peers, and many live in constant fear of deportation.  

In the mid-2000s, 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.

The NYSYLC was founded in 2007. Since then, we have worked to support and mobilize undocumented youth in New York through innovative leadership development opportunities and grassroots organizing. 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.