In the Texas Tribune today, Julian Aguilar has an excellent article exploring whether young activist immigrants who were deported or returned to Mexico of their own accord and then returned to U.S. ports of entry seeking asylum are hurting or helping the cause of comprehensive immigration reform.
Carlos Spector, who represents more than 100 Mexican families seeking asylum, said Monday that the tactics of groups like theDREAM 9 in Arizona or the DREAM 34 in Texas betray the cause of comprehensive immigration reform that they seek to champion.
“Both groups did not consult the work of the local community that has 25 years of experience working on these issues,” said Spector, who is also the co-founder of Mexicanos en Exilio, or Mexicans in Exile, a nonprofit outfit that helps endangered Mexicans move safely to the U.S. “They played into the right wing’s argument and narrative that Mexicans are using the asylum process frivolously just to enter the country.”
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Groups who support such DREAMer groups, however, say they are serving a noble cause. They say they are bringing attention to youths who were deported to Mexico but are just as deserving as other immigrants seeking refuge in the U.S.
To receive asylum, petitioners must show they have a valid fear of persecution or death due to a number of factors, including religion, ethnicity, participation in a political group or sexual orientation.
Spector, who just weeks ago declined to openly criticize the groups, spoke Monday about a case he said proves his argument against the activists. That morning, Carlos Gutierrez, a Mexican businessman from Chihuahua whose feet were cut off by criminal gangs, left West Texas for his “Pedaling for Justice” effort, a 700-mile bicycle trek through the state to focus attention on the violence in Mexico and its root causes.
Gutierrez, who uses prosthetic legs, sought asylum in 2011 after the criminals punished him for not paying their monthly $10,000 extortion demand.
It’s cases like his, Spector said, that get diluted by activist movements.
“Carlos’ feet are cut off. Those are the real cases we are dealing with, and what they are doing is they are diminishing the importance of that,” he said. “And that’s one of the reasons we are going public with this now.”
Spector, who supports comprehensive immigration reform, said the activists probably have good intentions and “represent the desperation of people that want to get together with their families.” But the tactics, he said, are hurting the overall cause, especially because judges usually deny most asylum cases sought by Mexicans.