Right now, nine undocumented young persons are detained in an awful private detention center in Eloy, Arizona, awaiting a decision that could change their lives forever. While there are hundreds of thousands more just like them in the same situation all over the country, what is unique about these nine young persons, or the Dream 9, is their detention was voluntary. They presented themselves to authorities at a port of entry in Nogales after visiting their family in Mexico and demanding readmission to the United States. All nine identify as DREAMers because they qualify for the DREAM Act. One of the stipulations of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the DREAM Act, if it is passed, is the inability to leave the country and return.
The National Youth Immigrant Alliance (NYIA), which is organizing this protest, has facilitated dozens of civil disobediences all over the country, including sit-ins in congressional offices as well as infiltrated detention centers to uncover and bring awareness to how migrants are treated in the United States. The media is representing this protest as a “publicity stunt” because the protesters could have easily gone to Capitol Hill to inform their congressmen and women how they felt about the issue. Additionally, many critics are saying that the protest is deterring Congress from making real change.
In reality, DREAMers have been organizing themselves and their communities for the past 12-plus years in hopes that the DREAM Act will pass and comprehensive immigration reform will finally relieve families who have been living in fear. This protest lets the U.S. Congress know deportations are a real emergency that need to be addressed now. Furthermore, the Dream 9 are making it painfully clear that the conversations happening on Capitol Hill do not change the fact that the Obama administration has deported more than 1.7 million people. They are challenging the “us vs. them” mentality that comprehensive immigration reform is perpetuating in its attempt to transform a broken system.
The Dream 9 are heroes because they are putting their bodies and livelihood on the line for a cause that is much bigger than them. There are over two million undocumented people living in the United States, and over 400,000 people have been deported each year since Obama became president in 2008. This is a moral crisis, and the Dream 9 are building consciousness by forcing people to question the U.S. border policies that have caused pain for millions of people for years.
Instead of criticizing the Dream 9 or the NYIA for the way in which they decided to protest, we should admire them for how courageous and fearless they are. Ask yourself why nine young people would risk not being able to see their families, friends, or community so that immigration reform ca be passed. Ask yourself why nine young people would risk death from starvation so that the world can see how private detention centers treat people on a daily basis.
Here are some ways to support the Dream 9:
1. Sign the petition to support them.
2. Take the pledge to stand in solidarity with the Dream 9 by participating in a day-long hunger strike.
3. Call your state's representatives and senators to demand just immigration reform and to support the Dream 9.
4. Organize or participate in a local solidarity action to support the Dream 9 and the millions of undocumented persons awaiting a just immigration reform.
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