Actors Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani paid tribute to young immigrants during Sunday’s Academy Awards in a moving speech that also referenced the pair’s immigration status.
The ceremony took place the day before the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program ― which protects undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children ― had been set to expire. Because of a recent Supreme Court decision, the program effectively lives on, but its beneficiaries ― known colloquially as Dreamers ― still remain uncertain over their futures due to Congress’ ongoing debate on immigration reform.
“Like everyone in this room and everyone watching at home, we are dreamers,” Nyong’o said before announcing the nominees for achievement in production design. “We grew up dreaming of one day working in the movies. Dreams are the foundation of Hollywood, and dreams are the foundation of America.”
Nanjiani chimed in, saying that, “to all the Dreamers out there, we stand with you.” The crowd erupted in applause.
The actors also poked fun at their own experiences as immigrants, with Nyong’o joking that both of their names are impossible to pronounce and Nanjiani revealing that his real Pakistani name is actually Chris Pine.
“I’m from Pakistan and Iowa, two places that nobody in Hollywood can find on a map,” Nanijani added.
Trump in September announced he was disbanding DACA, which lets hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants stay in the U.S. He later professed his love for the Dreamers, and expressed a desire to allow them to remain in the U.S. ― with a few caveats. He demanded that any protections for Dreamers come with funding for a border wall, the suspension of the visa lottery program, and an end to family reunification policies.
As Monday’s deadline arrived, hopes for immigration reform continued to flicker.
“We’re worried that people are going to forget about the Dreamers and that while no one is paying attention, the administration will start quietly deporting them,” the American Civil Liberties Union’s Faiz Shakir told the Guardian.