Undocumented Youth Attempt to Re-enter U.S., Detained at Border
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The city of Nogales, Arizona saw a groundbreaking and historic border crossing Monday as eight undocumented activists who had either been recently deported or had voluntarily left the U.S. entered into the U.S. from Mexico. Formally known as the Dream 8, they crossed the border dressed in graduation gowns and caps. Thousands of supporters cheered “Bring them home!” from both sides of the barbed wire border fence.
The crossing was anything but usual. There was no vast desert wilderness, no blanket of the night. Border patrol agents waited patiently on the U.S. side to apprehend them.
The protest came at a time when Congress is debating what to do with the immigration status of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Though the Senate voted 68-32 to allow most of the nation’s undocumented to apply for citizenship, Republicans in the House have proposed only allowing undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children to become citizens.
As for the Dream 8, all were brought to the U.S. as children. One Dreamer was brought to Arizona when she was four months old.
Risking jail time and possible permanent deportation for its participants, the National Immigrant Youth Alliance organized the risky crossing as a protest against Obama’s record deportations. The demonstration also highlighted the fact that of the 1.7 million that have been deported under Obama, all will be excluded from any future immigration reform legislation passed by Congress.
Three of the eight Dreamers voluntarily left the U.S. two weeks ago in order to join the other five Dreamers in protest. As individuals with no criminal record, their departure and request to return home aims to challenge Obama’s policy on deported immigrants – which prioritizes deporting serious criminals.
Lizbeth Mateo is one of the Dreamers who left the states earlier this month. In addition to her participation in the protest, Mateo decided to return to Mexico to visit family she has not seen for 15 years, while she has been living in California.
In a blog post on the Huffington Post, Mateo wrote about her participation:
If immigration reform passes, we cannot leave out the millions of people whose families have been separated by deportation. They deserve to be home, and if we win, they may come home soon. They deserve not to be forgotten. They deserve a pathway home, and Congress should create it right away. As immigration reform is debated in the House, take a moment to call your representative and tell them to let us—and the thousands more like us—come home.
As the Dream 8 crossed into the U.S. through the Nogales port of entry, another Dreamer, who had also been recently deported, allegedly joined their cause and was arrested - making the group the Dream 9.
According to Twitter, not long after the Dream 9 were arrested and shuffled into U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) vans, an additional 30 deported Dreamers allegedly arrived to the scene to demand entry back into the U.S.
Later Monday night the Dream 9 were detained and sent to the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. Their petitions to enter the U.S. on humanitarian grounds, which would allow them to enter the U.S. for a period of time if they have a compelling emergency, have been denied. The Dream 9 are now seeking asylum.
On Twitter, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a key member of the bi-partisan House group working on an immigration reform bill, expressed his support of the detained Dream 8 saying:
I have heard about the #DREAM8. I hope the Obama administration will do the right thing #BringThemHome