Hunger for Justice: Calling on President Obama to Release the DREAM 9
by Maryada Vallet and Steve Pavey
It has now been over a week in detention for the nine DREAM activists who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico Nogales port of entry on July 22nd and asked authorities to let them come back home.
In one week's time, these courageous young immigrant leaders have received widespread international attention from both media and policymakers, bringing to center stage the impacts of immigration detention, deportation, and border militarization. Tens of thousands of calls and letters from supporters around the country have been directed to President Obama, to members of Congress, and to Immigration and Customs Enforcement demanding their release. Multiple protests and sit-ins have also occurred. Just recently, a letter signed by 34 members of Congress was delivered to President Obama urging him to take immediate action and use his discretion for their release. The letter reads, "They all deserve to come home…our country will be enriched morally, economically, and socially by their contributions." Three other congressmen have sent individual letters to the president as well.
The release of the DREAM 9 is just the beginning of the struggle they have launched. For most of this past week, the detained DREAM 9 have been on hunger strike because their restricted access to phone calls limits them from revealing the stories and abuses on the inside of immigration detention. The Eloy immigration detention center where they are being held is a private facility run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and infamous for abuse. Just a few months ago, a man and a young woman from Guatemala committed suicide in two separate incidents just a few days apart, which is not a new issue.
Members of the DREAM 9 have also been kept in solitary confinement for most of the week, but they report that other detainees are increasingly emboldened by their presence and ready to fight for their freedom and dignity. One 60-year-old Dominican woman passed on her story in a letter for the DREAM 9 to share. She has been in detention for more than two years and has decided to join the DREAM 9 in the hunger strike. The Bring Them Home campaign is now calling on supporters to take the pledge of calling on President Obama for their release and to join the hunger strike for a day this week.
We will be pledging our ongoing support by fasting and praying this week, remembering the 1.7 million families separated by deportation and border militarization in recent years. We are praying that the deep hunger for justice for immigrants will be satisfied. Will you join us?