(Reuters) – Dozens of young, undocumented adults raised in the United States but sent back to Mexico marched over the border on Thursday as part of an ongoing protest of the plight of college-age immigrants in a sometimes violent country where they feel like strangers.
Organized by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, the border crossing is the third in a campaign that began last July and has included journeys into Texas and Arizona.
The participants are mostly in their 20s and say they would have been protected in the U.S. and allowed to attend college with in-state tuition had Congress passed the 2010 Dream Act protecting undocumented youths brought to the U.S. as children.
“I want to come home,” said Ramon Dorado, who grew up in New Mexico. He wore his graduation cap and gown as he made the passage and spoke perfect English. “I was two weeks from graduating college when I was stopped by the Albuquerque police for a traffic violation and deported because I have no papers.”
Dorado led a group of about 40 immigrants across the border from Tijuana to the port of entry at San Diego, where they asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents for asylum.
An earlier group made the same trip on Monday, and a third was scheduled to come over on Sunday morning. All were deported or left the country before the June 2012 date when President Barack Obama signed an executive order deferring deportation action on such cases.
“We have seen an unprecedented number of deportations in the past few years – in a few weeks we expect to reach 2 million deportations,” said immigrant rights activist Enrique Morones, who helped to organize the protest. “People who were raised here and know no other culture, have no family in Mexico, have never been arrested, are being deported.”