9 DREAMer Actions That Advanced Immigration Reform

DREAMers have used everything from protests to hunger strikes.

ByABC News
August 10, 2013, 12:10 PM

Aug. 10, 2013— -- intro: Nine young people who claimed asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border were granted parole on Wednesday, and released from an immigration detention center in Arizona.

The "Dream 9" crossed the border in late July as part of a protest against U.S. deportation policies. While in detention, these young people organized other detainees and documented conditions. They also launched a hunger strike and one member of their group was reportedly placed in solitary confinement.

Their broader message: Any immigration reform bill should recognize the people who've been deported, most of whom have been non-criminals or people who committed low-level offenses.

The Dream 9 still need to appear at an asylum hearing, unless they gain some sort of special reprieve from the Obama administration. It's worth noting that since Obama took office, more than 1.6 million have been deported, and the majority have been sent to Mexico.

Of course, this isn't the first group that has tried to impact reform. Here are eight other DREAMer protests that have influenced the broader immigration dialogue:

Update, Aug. 16, 10:25 a.m.: We missed a few major actions in this round-up, including the "Trail of Dreams" march from Miami to D.C. and the groundbreaking New York Times article "My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant" by Jose Antonio Vargas.

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title: A sit-in at John McCain's office

text: With Congress basically ignoring immigration policy, a group of three undocumented immigrants took to Republican Sen. John McCain's Tucson, Arizona, office to get his attention in May 2010 .

Mohammad Abdollahi was among the protesters calling for McCain to support the DREAM Act, a bill that would create a path to citizenship for undocumented young people.

Abdollahi, who had come to the U.S. at age 3, faced deportation to Iran. He was also gay, which made the situation more tense, since homosexuality is a crime punishable by death there.

"It's not only Sen. McCain we're looking for and holding accountable, there's senators all across the country we're holding accountable," Abdollahi said. "We're telling them you've been asking for a long time for somebody to step up and take leadership on this -- none of you have been willing to do so -- so as non-citizens, we've taken that lead."

The DREAMers were released and told to periodically check-in with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Abdollahi later told a reporter.

According to a spokesperson for the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), no DREAMer has even been deported because of an act of civil disobedience.

Photo courtesy of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance. Action organized by The Dream Is Coming.

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title: A hunger strike outside Chuck Schumer's NYC office

text: Along with the protest at McCain's office in Arizona, DREAMers were hounding Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Activists demanded to speak to him about about advancing immigration legislation, but Schumer was dodging them.

So for 10 days, young people held a hunger strike outside his downtown Manhattan office. The action slowly gained momentum, and when the activists held a "die-in" on the tenth day of the protest, The New York Times was there to report it.

Schumer met with protesters on the final day.

"He did find ten minutes of his time to come tell us that what we're doing is frustrating for him," said Yadira Alvarez, a hunger striker who spoke to ABC News. "We're tired of promises and we're tired of waiting."