While Congress Dithers, Undocumented Youth Starve for their Dreams in California

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CA DREAM hunger strikers.jpg
As some GOP Senators work with anti-immigrant organizations to derail the DREAM Act and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus continues to hold onto the chimera of comprehensive reform this legislative session, three brave activists are in Day 11 of their hunger strike in California. The strikers are fasting to raise awareness of the DREAM Act and pressure Senator Feinstein to be a true champion of the DREAM Act. They began the fast in solidarity with the 21 DREAMers who were arrested for civil disobedience last week in Washington, D.C. The DREAM Act would provide a path to legal status for undocumented youth brought here as children who complete two years of military service or college.

The courage and dedication of DREAMers and documented allies to this cause continues to amaze me. DREAMers are putting their bodies and futures in this country on the line in front of a Congress that it seems couldn't care less.

I have to wonder whether Senator Grassley or Roy Beck of the anti-immigrant organization NumbersUSA, both of whom are behind the recent "USCIS memo" attack on the DREAM Act, have ever sacrificed as much as the DREAM fasters are right now.

Where are the anti-immigrant sit-ins and hunger strikes? Where are the anti-immigrant faith groups making the moral arguments in favor of our own Berlin Wall? Where on the anti-immigrant side are the civil rights allies, the educators, the business groups? All I see on the anti-immigrant side are old rich white men giving speeches and writing press releases, and neo-Nazi border militias in fatigues shooting at migrant workers.

Like Lt. Dan Choi told DREAMers last week in Las Vegas, one side in this debate is on the right side of history and the other is not. It is now up to elected officials and the voting public to decide: Will you side with the DREAMers or against them?

Below the fold are the bios of the three remaining hunger strikers, as well as the release for yesterday's press event.

Jorge Gutierrez arrived to the United States at the age of 10 with his mother and four siblings. He is now 26, and after 16 years his educational and career DREAMS are still on hold. Jorge is Queer, Undocumented and Unafraid. These identities represent daily struggles in his life not only as an undocumented student who is fighting to attain documentation, but also a Queer Latino fighting homophobia in his own community. Jorge is unafraid and empowered to be the voice of the Queer DREAMERS advocating for the DREAM Act as a stand alone bill. Jorge holds a Bachelor's in English from the California State University system. He wants to continue in his educational journey and obtain a Master's in social work and eventually obtain a PhD and become a professor.

Carlos Amador arrived to this country with his family 11 years ago. He attended California high school and graduated with honors. Even though Carlos had difficulties learning the language and assimilating to a new culture, he was able to overcome them and continue with his college career. Carlos has obtained a Bachelor's degree on human services and is currently working on his Masters of social work at a University of California program. He has lived through many barriers and obstacles which are the ones that have made him realize the importance of getting an education. He has realized that with hard work and dedication, achieving his dreams is only a matter of time. That is why he is involved in the fight for the passage of the DREAM Act, and why he has decided to join the hunger strike. He wishes to finish his MSW degree and be able to work with the community. He wants to eventually go back to school and obtain a law degree and be able to help people in a different level.

Erik recently graduated high school, he is 18 years old. As he prepares to begin his college career at Santa Ana College, he decided to take part in this hunger strike because he wants to ensure a better future for his friends and his community. He is willing to put his body on the line because he feels undocumented students have the right to continue their education and put their hard earned degrees to use, which is what the DREAM Act would allow. He wants to ensure that undocumented students are not denied the opportunity to continue their education.

For Immediate Release
Thursday July 29th, 2010
Media Contacts:
Ernesto Zumaya (323) 594-7107, Spanish and English

Educators in Support of California Hunger Strike for the DREAM ACT

For 10 days, immigrant youth and allies have been involved on a hunger strike, in support of the DREAM Act as a stand alone bill, in front of United States Senator Dianne Feinstein's Los Angeles office. The participants are requesting Senator Feinstein for a statement in which she agrees actively supporting the DREAM Act when is brought forward to the Senate floor and also having a meeting between her district office and their group, The DREAM is Coming.

WHAT: Press conference with educational leaders in support of the 10 students currently engaging in the hunger strike, in an effort to achieve their DREAMs, in Los Angeles to urge Senator Dianne Feinstein to champion the DREAM Act as a stand alone bill.

WHEN: Friday, July 30, 2010
10:30 AM

WHERE: In front of Senator Dianne Feinstein's Los Angeles office
11111 Santa Monica Boulevard Los Angeles CA90025

WHY: In order to continue to pressure Senator Feinstein to champion the DREAM Act, students and allies are willing to make a physical sacrifice in order to push the DREAM Act forward. Joining the hunger strike participants at the press conference there will be several educators speaking in support of the DREAM Act. Ernest Morrell, Ph.D., professor at UCLA, William Perez, Ph.D., professor at Claremont Graduate University and author of "We Are Americans" and UCLA Student Body President, Jasmine Hill, participating in the hunger strike, will be speaking.

At least 65,000 undocumented immigrant youth graduate from high schools every year, and many of them struggle to attend institutes of higher education. The DREAM Act will grant youth who traveled to the United States before the age of 16 a path to citizenship contingent on continuous presence in the country, good behavior, and the attainment of at least a two-year university degree or a two-year commitment to the armed forces.

The DREAM is Coming project is a collaboration between multiple organizations, including the New York State Youth Leadership Council, the Immigrant Youth Justice League, Dream Team Los Angeles, Kansas Missouri Dream Alliance, Arizona Dream Act Coalition, the Orange County Dream Team, University Leadership Initiative of Texas, Virginia DreamActivist, and DREAMActivist.org.

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Late last week, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released a draft internal immigration policy memo that one or more anonymous anti-immigrant Department of Homeland Security employees had leaked to his office. Shortly before the leak of the draft memo from... Read More


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by David Bennion published on July 31, 2010 7:56 PM.

DREAM Now Letters Recap: The CHC Has To Stand With Migrant Youth, Not Against Us was the previous entry in this blog.

Leak of USCIS Draft Memo Confirms Desperation of Anti-Immigrant Groups, Apathy of White House is the next entry in this blog.

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