NEW YORK, NY — Prominent immigrant rights activist Marco Saavedra has won political asylum. The decision, which was issued on Thursday by Immigration Judge Sam Factor, marks a decisive win for Saavedra, his family and his community, and sets a legal precedent for undocumented activists seeking political asylum in the United States.

This decision comes after years of discriminatory and brutal attacks on the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers, escalated in the past four years by the Trump Administration, and at a time when activists are demanding sweeping changes of immigration policy and an overhaul of the immigration system. It also comes at a time of increasing uncertainty for immigrant communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and particularly for undocumented people who have been made ineligible for state and federal aid.

Saavedra has been on the frontlines of immigration justice for nearly a decade. In 2012, as part of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, he turned himself into immigration authorities in Florida in order to provide direct support to detained migrants at the Broward Transitional Center. The following year, he self-deported to Mexico with other Dreamers (“The Dream 9”), crossing the border in solidarity with those who would have benefited from DACA, but were either deported or self-deported before the executive action was announced. Saavedra becomes the first of the Dream 9 to be granted asylum in the U.S.

Saavedra has been fighting his asylum case while continuing his activism and working at his family’s restaurant, La Morada, in the South Bronx, which has operated a mutual aid kitchen providing free meals for hundreds of community members since the start of the pandemic. While they celebrate this welcome and long-awaited decision, the Saavedras remain vigilant of the Biden administration’s immigration agenda and will continue their ongoing fight for justice.

Read more about Saavedra on La Morada's website.

Marco Saavedra has collaborated on the Mellon Seminar project Archives in Common: Migrant Practices / Knowledges / Memory, including the discussion The Undocumented-Led Struggle for Freedom.