There is an ugly side to the Texas Miracle that a lot of people don’t talk about. The people who are building the state’s economy are literally dying.
— Cristina Tzintzún, former Executive Director of Workers Defense Project


About The documentary

In the shadow of a lucrative building boom in Texas comes horrifying evidence of the abuses immigrant construction workers routinely face. Pressured to build as fast as the increase in demand for new buildings, a modern slavery has encompassed the construction industry, leading workers on a downward spiral to poverty, illness, accidents and death. BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM tells the story of several workers who face hardship and are fed up. Christian, son of a construction worker killed on the job, finds new meaning and purpose through a community organization led by Cristina Tzintzun, a young Latina, who exposes the scale of injustice and immigrant construction worker deaths in Texas as she battles for reforms. After Roendy Granillo, a 25-year-old immigrant worker dies of heatstroke on the job, Cristina takes on the city of Dallas, with his bereaved father and kid sister, who channel their grief into campaigning for a groundbreaking rest break ordinance. While workers fight for the right to rest, their lives are put at risk as immigration reform is stalled and anti-immigrant rhetoric expands with the rise of Donald Trump. Fleeing violence in El Salvador, electrician Claudia confronts fear again, but this time in the US as she works undocumented and afraid of deportation. Through the point-of-view of workers and general contractors, the film highlights the role of immigrants as it raises crucial and timely questions about immigration reform, the low-wage economy, power, justice, and citizenship. CEO Stan Marek, whose father started a construction company during the Great Depression on sound ethics and respectful treatment of the workforce, critiques the present-day exploitation and reminds us that, in a land of immigrants, the undocumented, who lack full citizens’ rights, are vulnerable to abuse and must be protected in order for the country to prosper. BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM tells a story of inspirational leadership, committed collective action, and empowerment as it bears witness to a growing determination to uplift an invaluable community – the people who are literally building our country brick by brick.


Support for the film

This film is fiscally sponsored by the Austin Film Society.

Click here to donate.