- Coalition “committed to achieving equality for all immigrant youth, regardless of their legal status.”
- Supports the DREAM Act
- Advocates a path-to-citizenship for those currently living in the U.S. illegally
Established in the spring of 2013, the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) is a network of grassroots organizations, campus-based student groups, and individuals “committed to achieving equality for all immigrant youth, regardless of their legal status.” Atop NIYA’s agenda is its support for the DREAM Act, legislation that would allow illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before age sixteen to: (a) attend college at the reduced tuition rates normally reserved for in-state legal residents, and (b) earn conditional permanent residency and a path to citizenship.
NIYA enthusiastically endorses the executive order that President Barack Obama issued in June 2012 regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which permitted hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants under age 30—and who first came to the U.S. as minors—to remain in America without fear of being deported.
In an effort to protest the practice of deportation in a highly visible manner, NIYA in July 2013 organized an action whereby three illegal immigrants from Mexico (who were living in the United States) briefly crossed the border into their home country and then returned to the U.S. via the Nogales, Arizona port of entry, where they formally requested asylum. They were accompanied to Nogales by six additional NIYA activists who either had already left the U.S. voluntarily or had been deported at an earlier point in time. In their pleas for asylum, these nine activists, calling themselves the Dream 9, cited what they termed a “credible fear” that, if forced to return to Mexico, they would be likely to experience harm, persecution, or even death at the hands of drug cartels.
When the activists initially presented themselves in Nogales, NIYA spokesman Mohammed Abdolahi told the New York Times: “The idea we’re trying to make about immigration is that there’s no reason to detain them. They’re not high priority, they’re not a flight risk, in fact they’re actually fighting to stay in the country.”
NIYA also praised 34 Democrats in Congress who had asked President Obama, in a letter dated July 29, 2013, to “act with all possible speed” to release the Dream 9 “leaders of the undocumented youth movement in the United States.” Thanking Obama for his 2012 “landmark decision to grant deferred action to childhood arrivals,” the signatories asserted not only that the Dream 9 (and others in similar circumstances) “all deserve to come home,” but also that “our country will be enriched morally, economically and socially by their contributions.” Among the signers of this letter were Andre Carson, Rosa Delauro, Eni Faleomvaega, Raul Grijalva, Alcee Hastings, Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Charles Rangel, Jose Serrano, and Jan Schakowsky.
To promote its pro-amnesty agenda, NIYA has posted, on its website, petitions on behalf of a number of individual illegal immigrants. Featuring personal stories about the many struggles of these individuals, the petitions are designed to elicit compassion from the government leaders to whom they are addressed—most notably President Obama, ICE Director John Morton, and Department of Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano. The ultimate objective is to secure the immigrants’ admission to the U.S. on “humanitarian” grounds. For example:
- Maria Peniche (age 22): “Maria came to the U.S. at the age of 10 and was living in Boston. She had started attending college, but could not longer afford it and returned to Mexico on June 10, 2012, just three days before the announcement of [DACA]. She attempted to continue her college education in Mexico, but her parents are older and had difficulty finding work, so she put off her education to work and put food on the table for her family … Maria wants to return to Boston and continue to pursue her education.”
- Luis Gustavo Leon (age 20): “Luis Gustavo lived in the small town of Marion, North Carolina since he was 5 years old. In 2011, after the failure of the Dream Act, Luis decided to just go back to Mexico…. After nearly a year in Mexico Luis has struggled to make it. The hardest part of being in Mexico for Luis has been being away from his family, he never imagined it’d be so difficult … Luis simply wants to return to his loving family.”
In addition, NIYA has produced numerous videos featuring illegal immigrants and their families pleading for assistance and understanding.
 In August 2013, investigative journalist Aaron Klein explained why a skyrocketing number of illegal border-crossers had recently been claiming “credible fear” when seeking asylum in the U.S.:
In December 2009, ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton … implemented new streamline procedures for asylum seekers that went into effect Jan. 4, 2010. The revised rules permit temporary release from detention pending an ICE hearing for illegal aliens who “have a credible fear of persecution or torture, and have no additional factors that weigh against their release.”
The new guidelines further mandate all asylum seekers should automatically be considered for parole. This marked a major departure from the previous rules that required an illegal alien to request parole in writing.
Morton’s new “credible fear” rules were hyped at the time by immigration advocacy organizations as a victory for immigration reform….
The same year the guidelines were implemented there was a spike in “credible fear” asylum seekers. In 2009, ICE received 5,369 such requests, reported the AP. The numbers began increasing in 2010, with the number of Mexicans seeking asylum in the United States nearly doubling the following year. This year, there were 19,119 asylum requests through May, with ICE anticipating more than 28,600 by the end of the fiscal year.
Moreover, Breitbart News reported that on June 18, 2013, the Department of Homeland Security had updated its website with instructions on how asylum-seekers could claim a “credible fear” of persecution.