On July 22, 2013, nine long-time US residents of Mexican descent arrived at the Nogales, Sonora U.S. port of entry, seeking legal admittance under petitions for political asylum. After living the majority of their lives as undocumented American citizens, the group of nine transnational activists, who came to be known as the Dream 9, challenged their voluntary and forced deportations by seeking legal entry into the US. The Dream 9 counteracted their disenfranchisement and dehumanization within U.S. society, ultimately disrupting uniform notions of citizenship and national belonging.

While they awaited their hearings at Eloy Detention Center in Eloy, Arizona, the DREAM 9 resisted and exposed the violent American criminal justice system. During their 17 days in detention, two of the Dream 9, Maria Peniche and Lulú Martinez, were punished in solitary confinement after attempting to rally their fellow inmates to seek free legal counsel. Ines and Martinez provide insight on the torture[1] Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers enact on non-criminal prisoners. With the help of media coverage, the Dream 9 brought attention to the trauma caused by solitary confinement[2], an extreme form of punishment meant for “disciplining” the toughest of criminals yet used liberally within immigration detention centers.


[1] American Civil Liberties Union, “Briefing Paper: The Dangerous Overuse of Solitary Confinement in the United States,” ACLU, August 2014, Accessed December 2015, https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/assets/stop_solitary_briefing_paper_updated_august_2014.pdf.

[2] Sal Rodriguez, “Solitary Confinement: FAQ,” Solitary Watch, 2012, Accessed December 2015, http://solitarywatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Solitary-Confinement-FAQ-short-version.pdf.