Sonic Trace: 5 things to know about the ‘Dream 9’

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This post comes to us from KCRW’s Sonic Trace. 

1- Who are they?

There’s a total of nine youths who — with the support of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance — presented themselves at the Nogales-Sonora border. Most Dreamers haven’t been to their place of birth.

Lizbeth Mateo, a Dream 9 activist. (Photo: Eric Pearse Chavez)

Dreamers are young undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S by their parents. The term “Dream” comes after a piece of legislation that would’ve paved a path for citizenship — it has failed in Congress. Three of them were Dreamers who voluntarily left the country to return to their native country of Mexico — including Lizbeth Mateo, who was interviewed by Sonic Trace producer Anayansi Diaz-Cortes— to bring back  six others who were deported or chose to leave the country.

2- What happened?

On July 30, the group walked into the Nogales port of entry with an intention to cross legally. Their plan was to ask for humanitarian parole, which is used for emergency purposes — that didn’t work. They were sent to the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, where a few were put in solitary confinement. They petitioned for political asylum — granted to people persecuted by their country’s government because of their race, religion or political opinion. Also, it’s not often given to Mexican nationals. But they passed their credible fear interviews, and the Dream9 were released Aug. 8. They now await to prove their asylum cases before immigration judges.

3- Why did they do this?

Mateo says there had been plans in the works for this transnational protest for three years now. And as the activists say, they wanted to push the envelop in immigration reform and the reunification of deported individuals and families. Immigrant supporters have pointed their fingers at Obama for having the highest number of deportation proceedings in any U.S. presidency — a total of about 1.7 million. In fiscal year 2012, there were over 409,000 deportees, according to U.S. Immigrant and Customs Enforcement figures.

4- Where are they in their process?

So, here’s what we know. They’re in the political asylum process and are awaiting court hearings with immigration judges. Their cases progressed rather quickly, a few weeks compared to the 60 days that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services cites. But it there’s up to 180 days of wait until they hear a decision on their cases.

And although three of the Dreamers might have qualified, only one of the nine — Lulu Martinez — applied to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. (It provides a work permit to certain young immigrants. Some states grant licenses to these individuals. )Martinez hadn’t received approval before she left to Mexico.

Molly Moloy, Border & Latin American Specialist at the New Mexico State University Library, investigates drug war and violence-related asylum cases. She says the Dream9 action is worlds away compared to the cases she reviews, which are Mexican drug war related — that’s one thing to keep seperate.

5- What’s next?

They’re back in their respective homes in the U.S., living here legally. And now they wait hoping to set a legal precedent for other Dreamers like them.