Weeks of uncertainty for the group of young undocumented immigrants -- known as the “Dream 9” -- detained after crossing the U.S. - Mexico border in protest may culminate on Tuesday.
During President Barack Obama’s speech on housing in Phoenix, the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) intends to bring their demands directly to Obama and ask for action to be taken in support of the detained students, according to a NIYA press release.
Last month three undocumented immigrants -- Lizbeth Mateo, Marcos Saavedra and Lulu Martinez -- returned to Mexico voluntarily to reunite with their family before crossing back via Nogales’ legal port of entry in an audacious act of protest against the Obama administration’s record-setting deportations. In Mexico six sympathizers, who had either left the United States voluntarily or been deported, joined the trio in their efforts.
The “Dream 9” were detained once they revealed their immigration statuses at the Nogales port entry. For almost three weeks they have been held at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, which is owned and operated by private prison contractor Corrections Corporation of America.
According to the NIYA statement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has “refused to offer a final determination on [the Dream 9’s] requests for discretionary release, humanitarian parole, or asylum.”
“The idea we’re trying to make about immigration is that there’s no reason to detain them,” NIYA member Mohammed Abdolahi told the New York Times when the activists were initially detained. “They’re not high priority, they’re not a flight risk, in fact they’re actually fighting to stay in the country.”
Last week, the “Dream 9” won support from 33 Congress members who signed a letter asking the president to use his authority to release the nine undocumented immigrants. U.S. Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) signed a separate letter closer to the student’s initial detention asking Obama to “act with all possible speed” to released the activists.
The president’s visit to Phoenix’s Desert Vista High School is also expected to see action from migrant worker and families protesting the administration’s record number of deportations, according to a press release by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
Since their detention, members of the “Dream 9” have made an effort to share documents and recordings via NIYA. Below you can hear Maria Peniche checking in after five days of solitary confinement at the detention center and read Lulu Martinez’s disciplinary report.