The Dream 9 was a group of young undocumented activists who staged one of the riskiest protests in the history of the immigration rights movement. In 2013, nine young undocumented activists walked from Mexico up to border officials in the United States and demanded to be let in and granted asylum. They were wearing their graduation caps and gowns—a uniform that had become the unofficial symbol of the Dreamer movement. They walked arm in arm, flanked by reporters and cameras. If their plan failed, they risked never being able to return to the United States, the country where they grew up, ever again.
Meet The Dream 9 (2015-10-16) by Maria HinojosaLatino USA
All nine were Dreamers—meaning they were brought to the U.S. without papers as children, and grew up considering it their home. Many didn’t find out they were undocumented until they were in their later teens, and were applying to college or a job without a social security number.
The Dream 9's Meetings At The Border (2015-10-15) by Steve PaveyLatino USA
Six of the Dream 9 had previously left the U.S. because their situation became too difficult in the U.S, and now they wanted to get back. The other three were members of an activist group called the National Immigrant Youth Alliance. They flew into Mexico just to participate.
The Dream 9 Change History (2015-10-15) by Steve PaveyLatino USA
The nine “dreamers” used the graduation outfits to signify their desire to continue an education in the U.S and walked up to the Morley pedestrian port-of-entry in Arizona asking for asylum to re-enter.
Meet the Dream 9
The Dream 9 took activism around youth immigration farther than it had ever been taken before. What they were doing was not only risky but difficult.
Luis León (2015-10-16) by Maria HinojosaLatino USA
Luis León (left) was brought to the U.S. as a child. He chose to leave in 2011 after graduating high school when he realized he had no avenue to go to college in the U.S. until the Dream 9 action.
Ceferino Santiago (2015-10-16) by Maria HinojosaLatino USA
Ceferino Santiago was 13 when he first came to the U.S. He grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, and was in Oaxaca, Mexico, before going to the border for the Dream 9.
Claudia Amaro (2015-10-16) by Maria HinojosaLatino USA
Claudia Amaro was 12 years old when her parents brought her to the U.S. She grew up in Colorado and California before moving to Kansas at 19.
María Inés Peniche (2015-10-16) by Maria HinojosaLatino USA
María Inés Peniche was 10 years old when she was brought to Revere, Massachusetts. She left the U.S. and moved to Mexico City. That’s where she was when she got the call about the Dream 9.
Lizbeth Mateo (2015-10-16) by Maria HinojosaLatino USA
Lizbeth Mateo was 14 years old when she was brought to the United States from Mexico. She lived in Los Angeles for many years. She then spent time in Oaxaca, Mexico, before she chose to leave the U.S. to participate in the Dream 9 action.
Lulu Martínez (2015-10-16) by Maria HinojosaLatino USA
Lulu Martínez grew up in Chicago after she was brought to the U.S. as a three-year-old. She was in Mexico City before going to Nogales to become part of the Dream 9.
Marco Saavedra (2015-10-16) by Maria HinojosaLatino USA
Marco Saavedra was 23 years old when he decided to return to Mexico for the Dream 9. He was brought to the U.S. when he was three years old and his family lives in New York City.
Adriana Díaz (2015-10-16) by Maria HinojosaLatino USA
Adriana Díaz was four months old when she was brought to the U.S. She grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and voluntarily returned to Mexico about a year before the Dream 9 took place.
Mario Félix (2015-10-16) by Steve PaveyLatino USA
Mario Félix was 23 at the time of the Dream 9. He joined what would have been the Dream 8 at the last minute. This photo was taken in 2013, when the entire Dream 9 was released from detention.
Produced by By Antonia Cereijido and Marlon Bishop
Featured images by Steve Pavey, Hope in Focus Photography, stevepavey.com