DREAMers Lead Hunger Strikes and Boycotts in Detention

A lawyer for the group, Margo Cowan, said in an interview on Monday that that the two young people were punished because "they were attempting to encourage other female detainees to participate in the hunger strike." A request for comment from the detention center was not immediately returned on Monday.

The DREAMers are highlighting, in part, the failure of the Obama administration to use discretionary power to stop the deportation of non-criminals, and young people brought to the U.S. as children.

That message has spread through news outlets and on social media, and some in Washington are paying attention, as well.

According to NIYA, 42 congressmen have signed letters requesting the release of the Dream 9. Perhaps the most high-profile support of the group came from Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who gave a speech on the floor of Congress requesting they be freed. In addition, vigils have sprouted up across the country, and thousands of signatures have been gathered through a NIYA petition demanding their release.

But not everyone is in favor of the action the DREAMers have taken.

One of the opponents is David Leopold, a prominent immigration lawyer who has been widely quoted in his opposition to the Dream 9 team, saying it was a "publicity stunt" and that it distracted from the issue of immigration reform.

When asked for a response to Leopold, Cowan said the Dream 9 action is no different than a protest on Thursday in Washington, D.C., where activists were arrested after stopping traffic outside the Capitol.

"I don't know why he's saying that about these young people," she said. "I didn't hear him criticize one of the vice presidents of SEIU, Frank Sharry and all the other prominent national leaders who were arrested in Washington last week."

Meanwhile, the Dream 9 continue to raise awareness of abuse within the detention center, and seem unbowed in their fight to bring immigrant families to the forefront of the national immigration reform debate.

"We want to go home, and we're really determined to get home," Amaro said. "We have to fight for what we want, and what we think is right."

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