4 Reasons Why the Dream 9 Activists Matter

In late July, a group of undocumented activists staged an unconventional protest in response to the Obama administration’s deportation policies. Dressed in graduation attire complete with decorated caps and colorful sashes, the nine individuals walked across the United States border to go “home” to Mexico. However, when they attempted to re-enter the United States and return to the cities and communities they truly call home, they were arrested and subsequently sent to the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona.

Named after the Dream Act, which offers undocumented youth a pathway to citizenship, the Dream 9’s controversial protest drew national attention to the already heated debate on immigration. While these individuals compose just a fraction of the millions of undocumented individuals living in the United States, the Dream 9 reveal larger issues at hand beyond their protest. Here are four reasons why the Dream 9’s form of activism strikes a nerve with the complexity of current immigration policy:

1. Immigration leaders feel divided about their protest.

Not everyone is in agreement with the sentiments of the Dream 9, who received help from the National Youth Immigration Alliance in staging the event. In one case, legal advocate David Leopold relayed to VOXXI that “I think this is a publicity stunt that doesn’t do anything to move the ball forward in terms of immigration reform.” Conversely, journalist Eileen Truax feels “…they’re trying to cause a shift that will force the political game to stop being a political game. They’re trying to make it a human rights issue.”

Many others have weighed in on the protest, and while the Dream 9 have received criticism and praise, individuals like Leopold and Traux, despite being on opposite sides of the spectrum, feel the Dream 9 are within their rights.

2. They’ve raised the profile for fellow Dreamers.

Alongside the Dream 9, millions of other individuals remain in limbo, constantly in fear for their livelihoods and the threat of deportation. In fact, three of the activists self-deported before the protest even occurred, having already felt the pressure of having to constantly look over their shoulder while living in the United States. The Dream 9 raise the profile for other Dreamers and their families, and puts a face to the hotly contested issue.

3. They’re encouraging youth activism and outreach.

While community leaders have varying opinions over the Dream 9’s course of action, they have brought the power of youth activism to the forefront. Ranging from ages 20-37, the Dream 9 prove that youth can have their voice heard in their communities. Moreover, organizations like the National Immigration Youth Alliance help support youth in similar situations, and teach them about the resources available to them and their families.

4. Their story is far from over.

After spending two weeks at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona following an attempt to re-enter the United States, the Dream 9 have been released from federal custody and can return to their families. However, this protest does not end here — in fact, it could extend for a period of several years. Why? The nine now seek asylum under credible fear, but according to legal analysts, this process could take years to litigate. Even so, as their stories continue, so will the debate on U.S. immigration and deportation policy.

Organizers and the Dream 9 knew the risk involved with the protest, but felt they could have made more of an impact at the policy and government level if they took to the next step — literally. Despite the schism produced from the event, this divide between critics and supporters is actually a good thing.

The Dreamers have gotten community leaders, politicians and the nation contributing more to the discussion on immigration reform, showing that much is at stake if policies remain the same. Supporters and critics alike must acknowledge that every undocumented individual deserves recognition, and the Dream 9 have shown what measures people will take to achieve just that.

Photo Credit: Todd Dwyer


pam w.
pam w4 years ago

I wish him the best, Kathy. Like my friend Rocio, he's stuck in a system which demands a black/white solution for every problem....even ones like this. Short-sighted, knee-jerk thinking.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

something else I failed to mention, he was issued an individual taxpayer ID number and pays taxes on his income. So undocumented workers are expected to find work with no SSN (risking exposure) and pay taxes with no chance of citizenship or residency. they also have to sign up for the draft at 18, so they must be willing to die for a country that deems them parasites and unwelcome. contrary to rumors he and all the illegal members of his family are not able to get medicaid, foodstamps, ect without a SSN, so people who claim that illegals "steal" these benefits are referring to those who falsify paperwork, something that white people are just as guilty of (i know of plenty of citizens who lie about income or leave out cash, accounts, assets ect when applying, also fraud) Furthermore peoplelike my ex husband have paid taxes along with their parents for years yet are not allowed to access any of the perks they are paying for. This is twisted. The first application and filing fee cost us $1600, and the second was $1300, just to START the process. the paperwork is complicated and must be filled out perfectly or it is denied and you get to pay again and start over. So you really need an attorney to keep the risk at bay. that was also expensive. Illegals fresh out of poverty just dont have thousands of dollars... do you?

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

my ex husband was brought here when he was 3, along with his brother, who was only a few months old. Their parents actually came legally with work visas but due to an issue with paperwork the children had to be snuck across with the help of coyotes. Cost them $600 to keep their children, as opposed to thousands of dollars and months of waiting doing it the "right" way. He is now 23 and has no family in Mexico. He knows nothing of it other than stories his parents have told him. His other siblings are citizens. He isn't able to get a SSN (which makes it impossible to get a job that isn't "under the table") he cannot obtain a license. He has to worry constantly about ICE. He was number 23 of 296 in our graduating class, all honors and AP classes (which is where we met) he was Battalion Commander in JROTC and took part in multiple volunteer events and activities. He works at his dad's business (as a mechanic) 6 days a week and supported our family. We are divorced because of his cheating, but overall he is a stand up guy, yet he struggles every day simply bc he was brought here 20years ago illegally. He has never been in any trouble with the law, yet he is a criminal. Our laws are broken, but there are so many exceptions to the rule and people are so quick to say "go back where you came from"... ignorance cripples this country

pam w.
pam w4 years ago

Joseph B....while I support some of what you've written, I ask you to recognize that SOME of this issue is not black/white!

What about my young friend who was brought here illegally by her parents when she was an infant? She's lived here for almost 30 years, in the shadows, knowing ONLY life as an American, without any ties to Mexico....and you want to send her away to a country she's never seen, simply because of her parents' crime?

This girl is smart, conscientious, kind and generous....she's everything you would want as a neighbor.

What's to happen to her? Deportation? What problem would that solve?

Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago


Joseph B.
Joseph B4 years ago

Four Reasons Why Dream Activists Don't and SHOULDNT Matter!
1. Illegal is illegal- What is so hard to understand about this concept!
If we went to Mexico as an illegal alien we would find a Mexican jail cell right quick with no leftists or the ACLU to defend us or access to taxpayer funds to meet our every need-
They are lawbreakers period that is if our laws mean anything!
2. Useful pawns for pandering to the illegal immigration lobby- Anything that makes illegals more attractive is used to advance lawlessness- And taxpayers foot the bill!

3. How dare they?? Openly flaunting our immigration laws? I have seen this so many times the openly illegals protesting and they get away with it! All the more to ignore them or better yet- Send em home!

4. A slap in the face to those that have followed our immigration laws and did it the right way- They do see this and ask why??

Yes, Illegal is illegal- No sugar coating can change it!

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L4 years ago

This is not about LEGAL IMMIGRATION this is about ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. One should not and should not be allowed to pick and chose which laws of a country they will obey. Every country has immigration laws and they should be respected; they should also be enforced. I was for giving these young people a path to citizenship because they were brought here by their parents. But my support is dwindling because they are being used as pawns and sympathy to gain legal status for their parents who should have been deported a long time ago.

Barbara L this is not the 17th and 18th Century and there are many reasons why in today’s world we cannot just decide to live in any country we please without their approval, in fact this has been a practice among countries for a very long time now. It’s why most countries demand a visa for you to even visit. People came to America in 17th Century looking for freedom from tyranny or freedom of religion; once we became a country they wanted the American dream; they wanted to be proud Americans and they did. Too many people come to America today ONLY for jobs and economic reasons; they don’t give a damn about becoming an American. I would say it difficult at best to try to compare the 20th and 21st Centuries to the 17th, 18th and even 19th Centuries.

Luis L.
Luis L4 years ago

We have a broken immigration system at this time. The current proposal to come out of the Senate offers no real solution to the millions of people who want to legalize their status. As a matter of fact it will only make things worse. Those of your who say that they need to wait their turn don't realize that many have been waiting over 10 years to get permission to stay or to enter. Some could not wait much longer to look for a better life. That is why they are here.

Liliana Garcia
Liliana Garcia4 years ago

The strategy they implemented looks a little complicated to me. Thanks and keep us posted on this.
Barbara D: Thanks for reminding us of Emma Lazarus beautiful poem on the steps of the Statue of Liberty. Too much water under the bridge... By the way I can't find your profile to send you a message.

Adrian T.
Adrian T4 years ago

I am very tired of people over the age of 18 being called "youths" or "children". Those terms refer to people under the age of majority, not people 20 to 37!