04 August 2013 ~ 5 Comments

DREAM 9 – America’s Political Prisoners

Now that we are clear that immigration lawyers are not the victims of a “broken immigration system” even though they love to act like it, this one is for more important and pressing matters.

This past week, two of the DREAM 9, Lulu Martinez and Maria Peniche, carried out an unprecedented “undocumented and unafraid” action at Eloy Detention Center. Now, Maria Peniche, is on suicide watch in solitary confinement while Lulu has been given “disciplinary segregation” for fifteen days as punishment. The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and several other organizations have condemned the use of solitary confinement as a way to retaliate against activists in immigration detention.

Blanca Vega writes in Latino Rebels about how the DREAM 9 are exposing many divisions in the weak coalition for immigration reform:

The Dream 9’s act of civil disobedience is not only shaming the President. It is also shaming divisive pro-immigrant groups and activists. More importantly, the courageous act of the Dream 9, is in fact, our national shame. The Dream 9 should have never felt propelled to do this in the first place. As a country, we have failed to protect them. We can change this. We must collaborate. We must stop shaming the acts of the Dream 9 and work toward their freedom and the freedom of all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S

The Human Rights Watch has come out with a strongly-worded dispatch in favor of the DREAM 9:

And beyond their detention, the Dream 9 are challenging the idea that their right to be reunited with their families should be extinguished with one step across the border. The immigration bill that recently passed in the Senate with strong bipartisan support recognized this as well: it allows for some immigrants with strong ties to the US to apply for provisional legal status even after they’ve been deported – a provision that does not appear to have the same support in the House. The US government should release the Dream 9 from detention. The Dreamers, alongside all the other deported immigrants with similarly strong ties to the US, deserve an immigration system that respects their right to come home.

I expect that the DREAM 9 will be given designation as America’s political prisoners by several other national and international bodies soon. And if they are not, they should be considered political prisoners by now. These are 9 young adults who grew up in America and their only alleged transgression is that they tried to come home by asking for parole and asylum, and were placed into detention for trying to do things legally, and then placed into solitary confinement when they tried to organize others who were similarly detained.

Friends at Culture Strike have started a great Tumblr for artists supporting the DREAM 9.

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Please continue to send the DREAM 9 snail mail as they enter into their third week of detention at Eloy. Besides a spotty phone service, it is the only way in which they can communicate with the world outside. Los Dream 9 están leyendo sus cartas—más que 150 envíos! Por favor, sigan enviando su amor. Les da algo que hacer y compartir con los otros adentro.

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