In the days leading up to July 22, nine young undocumented immigrants and immigration activists - a group later dubbed the "Dream 9" - who had been brought to the United States from Mexico illegally by their parents as children left for Mexico.  That late July morning saw them stage a kind of re-entry-by-protest, in which the nine activists and a group of last-minute additions marched to the port of entry with Arizona and demanded to be permitted passage.  On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved the "Dream 9" activists' requests for asylum, in the first step toward the full granting of the status. 

The nine activists' case will go now to an immigration judge, who will rule on whether or not they will be allowed to remain permanently in the United States.  If the judge decides in their favor, it could set a landmark precedent for Mexican nationals - a group which is rarely granted asylum - to pursue the status out of a similar set of circumstances. 

RELATED: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Calls For Immigration Reform, But What Does His Group FWD.us Want Out Of A Bill?

Christopher Bentley, a spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told the Associated Press the DHS's ruling meant the "Dream 9" have a "credible fear" of being persecuted if they are sent back to Mexico.

RELATED: Schumer 'Pleasantly Surprised' With Reform Progress, Asks Why There Aren't More John McCains

"The legal threshold for credible fear is broad and low, in order to ensure that individuals who may face a 'significant possibility' of persecution if removed have the opportunity to have their case heard before an immigration judge," Bentley said.

The group's case will likely not come up for quite a while. New cases for immigrants not being held in detention are currently being scheduled for 2014, according to the Associated Press.  The nine activists have been held at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona as they await the DHS decision, but they will be soon released and could become eligible for a work permit in the US in the near future.

RELATED: Will The Dream 9 Be Able To Re-Enter the US?

Their time in detention has not been a peaceable one.  Two of them, Maria Peniche and Lulu Martinez, were placed in solitary confinement for 15 days after they started a chant of "Undocumented!  Unafraid!" in Spanish during dinner in the detention center.  Six others started a hunger strike.  Lizbeth Mateo, 24, who has become the face of the movement, lost 11 pounds in five days - about a tenth of her body weight, according to Colorlines.com.