Immigrant Youth Escalate the Fight to End Deportations and ‘Bring Them Home’
Thirty undocumented youth prepare to cross the US-Mexico border to return to the only home they know. – Photo via TheNiya.org
From the organization that orchestrated the ‘Dream Nine’ border-crossing and hunger strikes this past August, 30 young undocumented immigrants are preparing to cross the border back into the United States from Mexico to the states they grew up in. This courageous action is a continuation of the ‘Bring Them Home’ campaign launched by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) this past summer.
Along with Immigrant Youth Justice League and United We Dream, NIYA has been responsible for key points of agitation in the immigrant rights movement over the past few years – including infiltrating of some of the most notorious ICE detention centers in the country as well as blocking roads to physically stop ICE buses filled with undocumented immigrants bound for the border. The organization has committed itself to leading an ongoing escalation campaign targeting President Obama – whose administration has deported more undocumented immigrants during his presidency than during Bush and Clinton’s combined.
Seeking asylum in the hopes of returning to the states they grew up in and call home, the ‘Dream 30’ are highlighting the urgency and self-determination that undergirds their movement – an intersectional movement comprised of a multi-racial base of students, workers, parents, young people and significantly, LGBTQ folks (who often self-identify as ‘undocuqueer’). NIYA and other youth-led organizations are demonstrating that the DREAMers are dedicated to building a broad-base coalition across generations, utilizing messaging like ‘Stop Breaking Apart Families’ and ‘Not 1 More’ that emphasizes how deportations affect entire families and communities, not just immigrant children.
Many of the Dream 30 come from ‘mixed-status’ households, meaning that one or more of their family members is either a naturalized citizen or permanent resident in the US. With the executive order for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012 after the failure to pass a federal DREAM Act legislation, the immigrant youth movement has been split across status lines. Many DACAmented youth continue to grapple with what it means to be a DREAMer with some level of state documentation. And while some young people are seeking to expand DACA to include their parents, others have their sights set on ending deportations by any means necessary, and even further, opening up borders entirely.
While disagreement between organizations around the best strategy and most winnable-goals persists, so does the movement’s well-orchestrated actions. Since 2010 with the founding of ‘National Coming of the Shadows’ month, immigrants, and young people in particular, have been coming out strategically – declaring their undocumented statuses as both personal and political – an act that has had a catalyzing effect on the broader community, allowing for other undocumented folks to realize their power. Reverend James Lawson – the theoretician and tactician who trained key leaders of the Students Nonviolent Coordinating Committee before the Woolworths lunch counter sit-ins in 1963 has praised the DREAMers for their ability to apply old organizing tactics to their fresh movement: “The creating of power in themselves,” said Lawson to NPR last month. “‘I am not illegal; I am not undocumented; I am a human being, first and foremost,’ and secondly, they’ve used the power of organizing among themselves and in their family.”
Combining tactics of online organizing, petitioning and border crossings and sit-ins at ICE detention centers, groups like NIYA have proved themselves as a strong organizing force with the capacity to build political power for immigrant youth and their families while creating change that impacts the material conditions in the lives of their communities for the better. The 30 DREAMers who will cross the US-Mexico border today will certainly not be the last in this ongoing escalation campaign strategy to bring them home and pressure the House to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Follow #BringThemHome on Twitter and the livestream to get live updates on the Dream 30 and solidarity actions across the United States.
Follow Isabelle on Twitter @IzzyNastasia.