Eight members of the Dream 9 gather just moments before crossing the US-Mexico border. (Credit: Steve Pavey/One Horizon Institute)
This post originally appeared at Colorlines.
A historic border crossing took place Monday, not under the cover of darkness or through a desert wilderness but in broad daylight near the Nogales border patrol station with thousands of supporters on the United States and Mexico sides cheering.
Nine people, all transnational activists working with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), are now being held at the Florence Detention Center in Arizona after petitioning to enter the United States on humanitarian grounds. This is the first time a group of longtime US residents who are technically Mexican nationals have attempted to return to the states by petitioning for humanitarian parole. Monday’s action attracted more than 10,000 viewers from around the world who tuned into a Ustream live feed to see what would become of the so-called Dream 9.
At around 1:30 pm EDT, the nine crossers gathered for a final press opportunity in Nogales, Mexico, before taking a short walk to the dividing line between the United States and Mexico. Eight people had originally planned to participate but Rosie Rojas, who said she traveled for three days to meet them, joined the action at the last minute.
Among the nine activists was 22-year-old Adriana Diaz, who was brought to Phoenix, Arizona, from Mexico when she was just four months old. Diaz graduated high school with honors in 2010 but decided to go to Mexico last year because of the fear she felt living under Sheriff Joe Arpaio. She attempted to attend college there but the country doesn’t recognize her US diploma. Had she waited just three months, she could have been eligible to stay in the United States under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Diaz was one of six members of the Dream 9 who were either deported or left the United States on their own accord. The other three seeking humanitarian parole landed in Mexico in the last two weeks. Humanitarian parole would mean that the nine would be released on grounds that they don’t pose a threat to society. But authorities have apparently denied their petitions, so the activists are now seeking asylum.
While the Dream 9 crossers are now facing the perils of detention, the uncertainty was perhaps more elevated for the three activists who went to Mexico more recently to take part in the action. Although undocumented people in the United States live under the constant threat of detention and deportation, there is a relative safety in staying here. Those three who willingly crossed into Mexico are facing the new uncertainty of not being able to return to their respective homes, after having just left them.