Documentary released on undocumented high school students' robotics victory

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By Jayson Chesler By Jayson Chesler

PHOENIX -- "Underwater Dreams," a documentary about the engineering successes of a group of undocumented immigrant students at Carl Hayden High School, premiered at the AMC Arizona Center theater on Friday.

In 2004, the robotics team from Carl Hayden entered into the collegiate category at a competition in California. Once there, the team had an upset victory over the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Underwater Dreams" tells the underdog story behind that win and the impact the DREAM act had on the four immigrant students that made up the team.

Dr. Allen Cameron, a retired teacher at Carl Hayden, said that the students did not think that their story would be inspirational or worthy of a documentary. In the end, however, Cameron said their story shows what it means to be an American.

"When you see this movie, it changes what you think," Cameron said. "It changes (what you think about) 'what is an American, really? What is the character of Americans? Are these kids Americans, or are they not?'"

Since their victory in 2004, Cameron said others have been inspired to pursue robotics at Carl Hayden. Luis Aranda, one of the students featured in the film, said he now understands the reach and impact of his story.

"It opened up the doors for other students to continue with their studies and continue going to school, even though they don't have a legal status here in the U.S.," Aranda said.

According to Dulce Matuz of the American DREAM Act Coalition, said that the documentary shows the importance of the federal DREAM act. Matuz attended Carl Hayden and was part of the school's robotics team before the students in "Underwater Dreams."

"Most DREAMers have been living their lives being told that they're not worthy of the American dream," Matuz said. "The Carl Hayden robotics team shows us that no matter the background you are, everything you believe in is possible."

"Underwater Dreams" is showing at the AMC Arizona Center in Phoenix through July 25. Tickets are available online.