A protest expected at the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday will set an unprecedented standard in the modern immigration debate.
Thirty activists will attempt to cross into Laredo, Texas under the banner of the Dream 30, an effort meant to bring attention the 1.7 million-plus people deported during President Barack Obama’s first term in office.
The crossers are mostly Mexican immigrants who have either been deported or chosen to leave the country and return to Mexico.
Louis DeSipio, a professor of political science at University of California, Irvine, said the action is historic.
“There's certainly never been a border crossing of DREAM activists of this size,” he wrote via email. “It reflects a steady growth and diversification of the challenges that the DREAM activists are mounting to U.S. immigration policy.”
The protest is being organized by the the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), an undocumented immigrant-led organization that has aggressively disputed the Obama administration’s deportation policies. This effort is an extension of another protest in August, when a group of nine Dreamers sought asylum at the border.
The action comes at a time when talk of immigration reform has cooled in the nation’s capital.
In June, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill with support of both Democrats and Republicans. The bill would have provided a pathway to citizenship for many of the country’s estimated 11.7 million undocumented immigrants.
But the Republican-controlled House of Representatives hasn’t moved on any comparable legislation. And with a limited number of days left on the congressional calendar, any bill in 2013 seems like a longshot.
While the border action may not make huge headlines nationally, it fits into a broader strategy of activism, according to DeSipio.
“The timing may not be the best as the news value will probably get lost in the congressional budget debates,” he said, “but their goal is longer-term and to get their momentum going.”
You can watch a livestream of the action here, beginning around noon EST.
Updated, 12:27 p.m.: I clarified that the protesters are "mostly" Mexican immigrants. One protester was born in Peru.
Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.