Natalia Saavedra at a rally in New York City to release her son Marco Saacedra, a DREAM 9 member. (Photo courtesy of NIYA and New York State Youth Leadership Council.)

DREAM 9 awaits parole decision, while Dreamer tactics continue to spur debate

The Dream 9 is waiting to hear if they will be granted asylum, while the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) says hundreds throughout the United States are joining the nine Dreamers in their hunger strike until they are out.  They have also stated 70 detainees inside the Eloy Detention Center had joined in the hunger strike, though U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials deny the reports, according to the Associated Press.

In addition, Dream 9 supporters have continued to put pressure on Congressional members to sign a letter asking the Administration to allow Dream 9 members to re-enter the U.S.  According to NIYA, Ceferino Santiago’s brothers are planning to stage a sit-in at the Louisville, Kentucky office of Representative John Yarmuth to ask him to publicly support DREAM 9.

The Democratic Congressman has not signed the letter of support, though he did release a statement saying that an essential part of immigration reform is ensuring that DREAMers pursue their education and careers and can contribute fully to society without fear or trepidation.

“Until we can make these essential changes to the law, I will continue to support the administration’s deferred action policy and have opposed Congressional attempts to prevent its implementation,” Rep. Yarmuth said in a statement to Pedro Santiago, a brother of detainee Ceferino Santiago. “I have also directed my staff to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement to express my concerns about this situation, ensure the Dream 9 are being treated humanely, and request that their cases be handled fairly and expeditiously.”

Demonstration in support of Dream 9 in New York City. (Photo courtesy of NIYA and New York State Youth Leadership Council."

Demonstration in support of Dream 9 in New York City. (Photo courtesy of NIYA and New York State Youth Leadership Council.”

Others, however, argue against DREAM 9’s tactics, some saying their efforts are counter intuitive to achieving comprehensive immigration reform and have diverted attention from other issues.

“I really admire their passion and admire their energy and their courage, but what I don’t admire is their ethics,” says David Leopold, an prominent immigration attorney. “Culturally most DREAMers are American in every way without the technical papers. Once you walk out of the US, though, that there is a game changer.”

Leopold says DREAM 9 have shifted national attention from the lack of immigration legislation coming from the House. He also points to the realities and conditions in these immigrantdetention centers.

“I’ve represented so many dreamers and undocumented people, and to watch someone walk into detention center to score a point politically flies in all the face of people who struggle to get out,” he says. “You’re not going to see your family because the law doesn’t permit it right now. This is serious, serious stuff.”

According to a news release from NIYA, the DREAM 9 are being moved but have not been informed as to where.

“The nine received credible fear interviews on Tuesday,” the release stated. “We are expecting results in the coming days.”

So far 29 demonstrations have taken place to support DREAM 9. The following is a map of 25 of the protests. Throughout the country, hundreds of people have pledged to fast to pledge their support of DREAM 9, according to the NIYA news release. Click here for an interactive map.

Map of Dream 9 Demonsrtations

Courtesy of NIYA

“We are doing hunger strikes, but they tell us they will punish us,” said Eloy detainee Thesla Zenaida in Spanish. Her voice was recorded from inside Eloy. “I have been here a year, two men have died because they gave them the wrong medicine, another girl hung herself.”

Kelly Carrion contributed to the reporting of this article. 

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