Another person from the Dream 30 group that crossed the Laredo, Tex., international border last month is being allowed coming home. According to National Immigrant Youth Alliance’s Mohammad Abdollahi, 31-year-old Sandra Jara has been notified that her release from the El Paso Immigrant Detention Center will be finalized as soon as today, and that she will be able to return to her home in Los Angeles. This is the group’s second victory in two days, following the release of 17-year-old Luis Lopez from an Office of Refugee Resettlement facility Monday. Aside from Jara and Lopez, 24 of the Dream 30 group remain in detention.
Jara traveled with the group, some of whom were released from Border Patrol custody almost immediately after crossing, last month. But the Dream 30 group, including Jara, has vowed to stay in detention in solidarity with one another until each of them is granted release. Because of the partial government shutdown, regional and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokespeople are not available or have not responded to requests for comments on the cases.
When I spoke with Jara shortly before she crossed back into the United States, she explained her long journey to me. Jara first came to the U.S. with her mother as a teenager. As she grew older, Jara realized she wanted to go to school to sharpen her photography skills. She applied for a program in Spain but had to return to Peru order to apply for a travel visa. When that visa was denied, she was essentially stuck in Peru as a self-identified queer person with little protection. Jara began the process to apply to immigrate to Canada, where she thought she might be able to attend school and integrate in society. Since Jara left the U.S. a couple of years ago, she’s not seen her mother, who lives in Los Angeles.
In the middle of her planning process to move to Canada, she heard about the Dream 9, who were all released following a very public border crossing in July. When Jara heard about the opportunity to cross with the Dream 30, she jumped at the chance–selling her few possessions in Peru for a chance to come back to Los Angeles.
Jara was born in Peru, grew up in the United States, tried to get a visa to go to Spain, wound up back in Peru, and was planning to go to Canada. But when I asked her where home was, she simply answered, "Home is where my mother is. And I’ll be seeing her soon."