On Monday July 22nd, nine young immigrants (aka the “Dream 9″) arrived at the Nogales, Arizona port of entry with paperwork for humanitarian parole and asylum, requesting to come home to the United States. It was a historic and courageous action to bring awareness to those left out of the immigration reform debate–the millions of immigrant families that have been separated by detention, deportation, and border militarization.
Since then, the Dream 9 have been held in the infamous Eloy Detention Center, a private facility run by the Corrections Corporation of America. In just the past two weeks, they have received widespread national attention. Nearly 30,000 calls and letters of support have arrived from around the country and their nationwide organization, the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, has led multiple protests and sit-ins calling for their release . As a result of their effective advocacy, 43 members of Congress and counting have signed a letter to President Obama urging him to take immediate action for their release.
Just yesterday, we received the good news that all nine have passed the first interviews for their asylum cases. But they still have not been released. Please join us today in asking President Obama and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for their immediate release.
You can get involved by calling ICE and the White House, using the script below, or signing the online petition.
“Hi, my name is ____ and I’m from ____ . I am calling to ask that the Dream 9 be released from Eloy Immigration Detention Center in Arizona. None of the nine are a flight risk, and they were all detained trying to come home. Supporters from all over the world are asking for their release, please bring them home.”
ICE (Arizona): 602-766-7028
ICE (DC): 202-732-3000
White House: 202-282-8000
Bringing the Dream 9 home is just the beginning of the struggle they launched from the border. While in detention, the Dream 9 went on a hunger strike to protest restricted access to phone service that limited them from revealing the stories and abuses they heard from the inside. Members of the Dream 9 were also kept in solitary confinement to prevent them from building solidarity with the other detainees. Last week, more than 70 women in the detention center joined the hunger strike–some of whom have been in detention for years. This action further exposes our country’s unjust and deadly immigration and border enforcement policies, such as harsh border security, Operation Streamline, and record detention and deportations. All of this would be made worse by the border militarization provisions in the Senate’s immigration reform bill.
No More Deaths, a ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, is proud to be actively supporting the Dream 9. The mission of No More Deaths is to stop the death and suffering of migrants in the southern Arizona desert and we recognize that many of these deaths in recent years are a result of the 1.7 million people deported under the Obama administration. Immigrants with strong ties to the United States are faced with increasingly dangerous border crossings to return to their homes and families. No More Deaths volunteer and Unitarian Universalist Dr. Kat Sinclair worked with the legal team for the Dream 9 action. “As part of respecting the inherent worth and dignity of all people, we should be welcoming our deportee community home with open arms,” Sinclair said.
The core of the struggle for immigrant rights must be led by those directly affected by the injustice. We are honored to support families and community members who are building a movement that is impossible for policy makers and law enforcement to ignore. It provides yet another opportunity for allies to listen to the voices of immigrants and act in solidarity. Even if the Dream 9 are released, thousands still remain in detention or legal limbo–making our commitment to the long-term movement that much more important.
Please help us spread the word! Forward this email to your network, post to Facebook or Twitter, issue a public statement of support from your school, congregation or organization, and keep spreading the word. #BringThemHome
This post was written by Maryada Vallet and Walt Emrys Staton, M.Div. Emrys is a Unitarian Universalist ministerial candidate and Maryada is a public health professional. Both are long-time No More Deaths volunteers and based in Tucson, Arizona.