A group of young immigration reform activists known as the DREAM Nine have been released from Eloy Detention Center after being held there for about two weeks.
The group voluntarily crossed the border from Mexico to the U.S. on July 22 and openly declared their undocumented status to officials as an act of protest. Shortly following their request for humanitarian asylum, the group was taken into custody and detained in Eloy Detention Facility, a privately run detention center in Eloy, Arizona. During their two weeks in detention, two of the activists were placed in solitary confinement, and one was placed on suicide watch after becoming distressed.
The Guardian reports that the group's aim was to protest the Obama administration's aggressive deportation policies, and to raise awareness about immigration detention nationwide. The group gained media attention through its social media campaign, using a Twitter hashtag #BringThemHome.
After gaining the support of a group of Congress members, including Raul Grijalva (AZ), Mike Honda (CA), and Ruben Hinojosa (TX), the group was released last week. A letter to President Obama by those lawmakers stated, "These youths are victims of our broken immigration policy. They deserve to come home to the United States, where they can continue to work towards fulfilling their dreams of higher education."
The members of the group were primarily raised in the United States, some brought in as infants. Although some may have qualified for DACA relief, the group maintained that Obama's policy of deferral for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children was not string enough protection.
Based on a theory of hardship in returning to Mexico, the group members applied for humanitarian parole and asylum. Typically, those forms of relief have a high standard, requiring compelling reasons to avoid deportation, and are virtually unheard-of for immigrants from Mexico. But, the Nine managed to convince immigration officials that they could establish a well-founded fear of persecution if returned to Mexico, and thus were released and allowed to pursue their asylum claims outside detention.