If you are following immigration lawyers closely on Twitter or you are an immigration lawyer on a couple of the busier Facebook forums geared toward that audience, you may have been following the plight of nine DREAM activists who are trying to illustrate the harsh consequences of our country's deportation policies by engaging in an incredibly risky protest. The activists crossed the border into Mexico with the hope of reentering along with others who were deported to Mexico and have been separated from their relatives in the US. The group certainly has been successful in calling attention to its issue but did not succeed in bringing themselves or anyone else back with them. The nine activists sought readmission to the US and and were denied. They then filed asylum claims, which explains why they are in a detention facility in Eloy, Arizona rather than simply stuck in Mexico. Huffington Post is reporting that the group is on a hunger strike.

I'm not in a position to comment on the validity of the individual asylum claims (except to say that asylum in general is tough to win). Huffington Post reports that the lawyer for the DREAM 9 also is seeking humanitarian parole, and I do think it would be inhumane to keep this group in exile. But I'm uncomfortable with the subject because the protest is so risky as has already been demonstrated. I don't want to encourage others to have an unrealistic expectation that they would be able to get the same treatment from the government if the DREAM 9 is released on humanitarian parole. Nevertheless, humanitarian parole is appropriate in this case and should be granted quickly.

The behavior of some Dream 9 supporters on social media, however, does not deserve the same level of admiration as the activists themselves. My friend David Leopold was quoted in the Huffington Post story to which I linked criticizing the tactics of the DREAM 9. He argued that the group hurt the broader cause of immigration reform. I personally don't believe that to be the case. However, David has been the subject of some pretty vicious attacks online that became personal or certainly smacked of a campaign to smear him rather than arguing his points on the merits. This, despite the fact that David's been a tireless pro-immigration advocate for decades. If the DREAM 9’s goal is to win hearts and minds to the cause, some of the hateful voices of their supporters are certainly detracting from this worthy goal.