Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Starving for a D.R.E.A.M.

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 11:13 AM

I saw these three ladies, mentioned in the article below, last week when I was in Raleigh. They sat on the corner, holding their signs, not bothering a soul. Apparently, on another day, they attracted a crowd of supporters with their vow to starve themselves for a cause.

What are they starving for? A dream.

Technically they're undocumented immigrants. It wasn't their choice to come to America, their parents brought them to our country when they were children. Now this is the only place they've known as home. They've grown up here, graduated from high school here and they'd like to build a life here.

The point of their protest was to get Sen. Kay Hagan's attention. They're hoping she will support the D.R.E.A.M. (Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors) Act, which has been circulating around Washington, in one form or another, for years.

The woman have been conducting their hunger strike on state land near the N.C. State Archives, and set up tents. They have subsisted on water, Pedialtye and Gatorade in the blistering heat.

One of the hunger strikers, Loida Silva, 22, took ill Sunday night.

The three are all illegal immigrants who have lived from North Carolina since childhood and graduated from North Carolina high schools, but faced barriers going on to college. All three women, who are part of the N.C. Dream Team, a group formed this spring that is pushing for the passage of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act).

They say they're angry and frustrated at the barriers in U.S. immigration laws that leave them with slim chances of going to college or getting jobs other than under-the-table work.

They had hoped to persuade Hagan, a North Carolina Democrat, to back federal legislation that would offer a path of legal residency to children living in the country illegally, but who have graduated high school and planning to go on to college or joining the military.

Critics of the DREAM Act, which largely has Democratic support in the Senate, say the legislation would encourage more illegal immigration and reward bad behavior by extending residency to illegal immigrants.

Read the rest of this News and Observer article, by T. Keung Hui and Sarah Ovaska, here.

I called Sen. Hagan's office this morning. One of her aides says the senator is aware of the protesters. When asked about the senator's position on the D.R.E.A.M. Act, the aide said he would e-mail her formal statement.

Here it is:

“I believe the DREAM Act should be considered in the context of comprehensive immigration reform. I strongly believe that the United States must take the necessary steps to fix the way we handle illegal immigration, and I am committed to achieving practical, bipartisan, comprehensive reform that will protect taxpayers and address the problem of illegal immigration at its core," says Sen. Hagan.

It's still not clear if she supports the D.R.E.A.M. Act specifically, but she didn't exactly say she didn't support it either. I suppose that's why the protesters starved themselves to the point of becoming ill.

On the campaign trail, way back in 2008, President Obama said he supported the D.R.E.A.M. Act:

Glenn Hutchinson, a professor at Johnson C. Smith, wrote a play, "Limbo," about this very topic. His point? These children are living in limbo, now what are we going to do about it?

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