The Dream 9 immigrants’ rights activists were released from federal custody last Wednesday after being formally paroled into the US. After long and tense debates, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ruled that the nine did have credible fears for their lives if they were to be sent to their home countries. The Dream 9’s act of civil disobedience has brought media attention which will hopefully make an impact for comprehensive immigration reform.
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The Dream 9 activists decided to cross the border from Mexico to the U.S. even though they knew they would be detained so that they could draw attention to the injustices that occur daily against immigrants. As long as Congress continues to stall the reform, these injustices will continue. While the dreamers made the conscious choice to leave the U.S., they did not choose their legal status, which could result in their deportations to their home countries. Their release is important and their application for amnesty sets an example for immigrant detainees nationwide.
The Dreamers are named after the Dream Act meant to give a path to citizenship for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. They could enroll in college or join the military and become eligible to apply. However, the restrictions set on the bill make it an easy idea to sell, but most undocumented immigrants are not eligible. “Undocumented individuals who struggle with drug addiction, test poorly, or come from difficult backgrounds run a higher risk of being deported, and the law excludes older people who came to the United States to provide for themselves and families.” The Dream 9 used their civil disobedience to draw attention to the need of more useful and applicable laws for immigrants. Undocumented immigrants are not the only ones who would benefit from these reforms either. The Congressional Budget Office states that the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate could boost spending by $36 billion from 2014 to 2023. “Legalizing a significant proportion of the undocumented immigrant population would not impose serious costs on either the economy in general or the social insurance system in particular” according to the Levy Economics Institute.
The Dream 9 risked their freedom to address a human rights crisis occurring that impacts millions of people in the U.S. They made their point clear that most detained immigrants are not criminals, but contributing members waiting for a path to citizenship.
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