Arizona 'DREAMer' Reflects On His Journey 15 Years After Winning Famous Robotics Contest

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2020 - 1:19pm

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Lorenzo Santillan
Matthew Casey/KJZZ
Lorenzo Santillan

Four undocumented teenagers from a Title I west Phoenix high school compete against the best engineers in the country from MIT with an underwater rover named Stinky — and win. 

It’s a made-for-Hollywood story that did, in fact, make those four "DREAMers" famous years later when it was made into a big Hollywood film called “Spare Parts.” 

Now, one of those students, Lorenzo Santillan, is making a name for himself in another realm: cooking. He’s opened a food truck in Phoenix called “Ni de aqui, ni de alla," which translates to "neither here nor there." And, he’s determined to make his mark even as his status in this country remains up in the air.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a decision about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) this spring or summer. 

Santillan spoke more about his journey on The Show. He says when he was on that Carl Hayden High School robotics team more than 15 years ago and went up against MIT, he didn’t even know what MIT was. 

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