Lulu Martinez, one of the Dream 9 (Photo/ National Immigrant Youth Alliance)

34 House members sign letter asking for Dream 9 release

Rep. Mike Honda has released a letter signed by 34 members of the House of Representatives to President Obama requesting he allow the DREAM 9 to re-enter the U.S.

The DREAM 9, leaders in the undocumented youth movement, and the members of Congress ask the President to “exercise [his] discretion and allow these ‘DREAMers’ to come home.”

“The youth requesting the opportunity to return grew up in the U.S., know this country as their home, and have contributed to the fabric of our society for many years,” the letter reads. “…Whether they left the U.S. for Mexico very recently or a few years ago, whether they left because of the difficult conditions in the U.S., or through deportation, these DREAMers grew up in the U.S. and consider it their home.”

To read the full letter, click here.

David Leopold, an attorney who has worked with numerous DREAMers, legal permanent residents, and undocumented people in the U.S. says he admires the DREAM 9’s passion, but he thinks it was a mistake crossing back into the country.

“Once you cross out of the U.S., all bets are off,” says Leopold, who used to head the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).  “There are 11 million who cannot just leave and come expect to come back in. That’s the whole reason why we fight for hard for the DREAMers to get the right papers to allow them to travel and live like normal residents.”

He says their protest shifts the focus from Washington and creates a diversion at a poor time. He says people should be focused on the split in Washington and the House’s slow approach to making a decision on immigration.

“We finally got to the point where we have a bipartisan agreement in the Senate,” he says. “There is no doubt we need to change the system. That’s where I wish they focused their passion: on Boehner and other leadership blocking immigration reform. I just wish they marched on Washington instead of Nogales.”

Just over a week ago, three leaders of the undocumented youth movement and DREAMers supporting their cause were detained after attempting to re-enter the U.S. at the Morley border crossing gate near Nogales, AZ, the letter reads. The DREAM 9 has been detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Eloy Detention Center since Tuesday.

The Dreamers attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico Border through a legal port of entry in order to start a movement and send a message on immigration and the need for reform. Mohammad Abdollahi, an organizer with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) said those in DREAM 9 did have a plan in case they were detained.

“If they were sent to a detention center, they would gather stories despite tight limitations,” he said. So far, members of the DREAM 9 say they have interviewed 7 other detainees who say they have not committed a crime like theft or larceny that could warrant detention.

Illinois congressman Luis Gutierrez and Colorado congressman Jared Polis wrote and signed another letter July 25.

“As we understand, these “DREAMers” are asking that discretion be exercised by federal authorities to allow them back into the United States and to return to their families and communities, “ the letter reads. “An additional goal that they express is to work to change a system that has resulted in the deportations of DREAMers.”

Echoing Gutierrez and Polis’ letter, 34 representatives also brought up faults in the U.S. immigration system that fragments families.

“We have faith that our immigration system can be reformed to respect the humanity and dignity of immigrant families,” the letter reads. “And we believe that returning these courageous young people to their homes is an important first step that we can take today.”

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