The DREAM 9: Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

DREAM 8 Action 58
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.”  – 1 John 4:18

On Monday July 22nd, nine young undocumented immigrants walked up to the port-of-entry at the U.S.-Mexico border and asked U.S. customs and border agents to let them in to return to their homes in the United States.  They are now asking President Obama to immediately grant discretion and release from the Eloy detention center in Arizona.

DREAM 8 action-89It was an action that will go down in the social justice history of America, like the crossing of the bridge into Selma for the civil rights movement. The courage and faith demonstrated by the DREAM 9, risking everything in order to stand up for the most vulnerable of immigrant families, represented the sacrifice and hope of bringing the kingdom of God to the here and now.

Southern Arizona faith leaders and clergy were asked to accompany the young adults, representing denominations including Presbyterian, United Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic and Evangelical churches. As the young men and women were preparing to slip on their caps and gowns, symbolizing their U.S.-based education and homes and the DREAMer movement, the faith leaders took a moment to say a blessing over the action. The faith leaders then accompanied the young people to the port-of-entry. It was at this gate that each DREAMer presented an application for humanitarian parole, knowing they would most likely be taken into custody immediately and detained.

The beauty and bravery of this action was even more powerful because of the juxtaposition against the backdrop of a border that has caused thousands of deaths and needless suffering of immigrants in the past two decades. This setting exposed the hypocrisy of calling for a “welcome of the stranger” amidst the deadly and harsh border enforcement that separates so many families.

Related: Read the story of Isabel Castillo, a vibrant, educated young woman prohibited from working in the USA

DREAM 8 action-18Each of these young people deserves to be able to come home. One was the Valedictorian at her high school graduation, another a track star, another starts law school in just two weeks, another volunteered for the City of Wichita translating public records forms, several received academic scholarships, most volunteered in schools and churches, one was a model United Nations Ambassador, all worked in community service programs and distinguished themselves as future leaders in their communities. Marco Saavedra, one of the DREAM 9, is eligible for DACA, but has risked his own future in order to advocate for the return of the 1.7 million separated from their families through deportations under President Obama’s administration.

As faith leaders and southern Arizona community members, we stood with undocumented poet and chaplain, Marco Saavedra, in a line just a few feet from the gate where he would cross back to his home in the United States. In the final moments before his detention, a reporter asked him, “Any last words? Are you afraid?”  Marco replied without hesitation and with a sense of peace in his expression, “There is no fear in perfect love.”  These DREAMers are the prophetic voice for this moment in history of the heated immigration debate, and the hope is surely in this undocumented youth-led struggle for freedom and dignity. They call it, “Dreams beyond borders.”

What do we hear them saying to us? Dreams beyond borders.

Brave New Films

DREAM 8 action-93They have laid their very lives on the line to say we must stop deportations that separate our families. We must stop using a dehumanizing detention system to manage immigration. We must reconsider what genuine and compassionate border security looks like that does not produce death, human rights abuses, and family separation. In fact, they may be saying to immigrant rights advocates that they do not aspire to be citizens, but rather aspire to be treated as human beings made in the image of God. They may also be saying that the way forward for immigrant justice for families and the most vulnerable will not be an easy path, but one that requires suffering, to take up one’s cross to follow Jesus. Will you follow?

The DREAM 9 are currently being held in immigration detention in Eloy, Arizona. Please pray for their release and for the reunification of families separated by deportation and border militarization.

Maryada Vallet works as a humanitarian and evangelical agitator on the border. For more on border humanitarian work, go to

Steve Pavey, Ph.D. works as an anthropologist, artist and activist at the One Horizon Institute.  He works closely with the undocumented youth-led struggle for freedom and recently co-authored Shadows then Light with Marco Saavedra.

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About the Author

Maryada Vallet and Steve PaveyMaryada Vallet works as a humanitarian and evangelical agitator on the border. For more on border humanitarian work, go to Steve Pavey, Ph.D. works as an anthropologist, artist and activist at the One Horizon Institute.  He works closely with the undocumented youth-led struggle for freedom and recently co-authored Shadows then Light with Marco Saavedra.View all posts by Maryada Vallet and Steve Pavey →

  • bluecenterlight

    It is encouraging to see young people stand up for something. I heard Malala Yousafzai speech at the UN and had to fight back tears. I think todays youth are coming to terms with the fact that the world being handed over to them is in a sad state of affairs (our bad ;). But instead of complaining they are determined to do something about it. We need to hear more stories like this. We need more young people like this.

  • Frank

    Can’t these families be all together in Mexico? If keeping the family together is the priority then what’s the problem?

    • John

      And if only Rosa Parks had just stayed at the back of the bus…

      The point is that social justice and family shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.

      • Frank

        What does Rosa Parks have to do with this?

        Their is no evil force keeping these families apart, they have it within their power to be together. So aside from the histrionic hyperbole, what’s the problem?

        • John

          Why can’t they be together in the US?

          • Frank

            You tell me…. We have an immigration system that allows people to come into our country. Without knowing their specific cases its hard to answer that question.

          • Hope Mustakim

            Frank, that’s the thing, there is NO reason for these families to not be together in the US. And yes it is just that simple. I know, sounds impossibly idiotic right? I encourage you to get to know more about our very broken immigration system with its terrible laws.

          • Fsnook

            So you’d let them jump the line in front of equally educated folks that have been waiting YEARS? Just because someone pulled at your heart strings a little bit.

          • Jim

            Frank, thanks for being a relatively lone beacon of response on this sight. It is refreshing to read simple answers and questions. Jim

          • Ian

            That’s the problem. It is not easy or simple to become a naturalized citizen of the united states at all. But thats not entirely the point that the dream 9 are making. They’ve exposed the cruelty and injustice of our immigration system. They were likely born in this country (correct me if I’m wrong about that) and are functional members of society. But apparently they are criminals deserving of solitary confinement and being separated from their families and friends and secure future due to the immigration status of their parents. This is only one of the ways the current system fails. Their is obvious need of reform.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    The sad thing is as much as I want to welcome these young people, what I hear them saying is “If you’re a US Citizen, we don’t care about you, we will destroy your culture and your lifestyle just like the Conquistadors destroyed the Mayans”.

  • Ian

    They’re tearing pages right out of MLK’s book. Love it. God bless em.

  • Let me get this straight … former undocumented students, now deported to Mexico, walked to the US border from the MEXICAN side and, because they asked for entry, have been detained? And this is legal why?

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