A 21-year-old Lexington high school graduate will soon return home after being released from a federal detention center in Arizona where he was held as part of a group protesting U.S. immigration policy, his brother said Friday.
Ceferino Santiago is one of nine people dubbed the Dream 9 released Wednesday from the Eloy Detention Center where they had been held since July 22 when they tried to cross the border from Mexico. The group took its name from the proposed federal Dream Act, which would provide a path to legalization for young immigrants like them who were brought into the country illegally when they were children.
The National Immigrant Youth Alliance organized the Dream 9 to protest federal deportations; the nine crossed the border at the Nogales port of entry in Arizona. They are seeking asylum in the United States.
Ceferino's brother Pedro Santiago, 23, said in a telephone interview that Ceferino was still in Arizona. He said he expected his brother to return to Lexington in the next several days.
"He's happy to be out," said Pedro Santiago, who has spoken to his brother by telephone. But Pedro said his brother characterized the situation "as much bigger" than the Dream 9 simply being released.
"This is about bringing people who are being deported back to their families. ... The goal is to ask that deportations be stopped," Pedro said.
Pedro said his brother was held in isolation for a time in the detention center and the reasons for that were unclear.
Ceferino is originally from Mexico but had lived in Lexington since he was 13.
He attended Lafayette High School, where he was honored as a top student-athlete in 2010. Ceferino had returned to Mexico because he needed ear surgery, which his family could not afford in the United States, his brother has said.
Pedro Santiago and other family members and friends held a vigil in Lexington's Courthouse Square in July to draw attention to the Dream 9.
The Los Angeles Times reported that immigration asylum officers decided this week that all nine had credible fear of persecution or torture in their birth country, Mexico, and could not be immediately deported. They received temporary parole into the United States and will now face an immigration judge, the newspaper said.