Today is day 12 of our hunger strike. In the morning I went to the elementary school on the east side of town, where I volunteer. It was a beautiful celebration for Christmas. It seemed that there were around 300 families in the school. I love coming into the school.
I got to see how the students celebrated having gifts for the holidays. They all got books and school supplies. It was a great time for distraction.
The students see me drinking maté, a delicious South American tea, and ask me if I have eaten anything. I tell them not yet and, disappointed, they ask me why. Their parents all gather around and I tell them that the vote on the Senate is next week and that this is the time when we need to call our senators.
It is hard to see their parents’ eyes, hoping for their children that this bill well pass. They have come to the U.S looking for a better future and hope that their children can achieve what they didn’t. It is amazing how hard the parents work.
They have two to three jobs and still find the time to come and volunteer at the school, helping with activities. They are the first ones present for Honors Day. These are the people who are getting deported every day. Since the beginning of the Obama administration there have been around 400,000 immigrants deported. This means that families have been broken, communities fractured and much pain inflicted.
It would be so great to see these students graduating and being able to be what they want. So many students have been here since they were little — some don’t even remember their lives back in their home countries. They hope, instead, that they can establish themselves here.
I talked with Mariana. She’s second grader who got all the diplomas on Honor Day. She asked me to take the picture with her and Santa and we smiled while he asked us what we wanted for Christmas.
I wondered if she would qualify for the Dream Act and I realized that she wouldn't. Only a certain few could qualify — those with good moral character and who are 12 to 29 years old. This makes me wonder how long will it take for these students to be fully recognized, for their families to be fully comfortable, and for this country to realize the economic benefits that, according to a study done by the White House, would add 2.1 billion dollars to our surplus.
Once the celebration ends, I come back home to rest for a little. I get to see how the other strikers are doing. Those in Bloomington are getting ready for finals and are wondering how long they can take it. We wonder the same thing, especially because we are faced with symptoms of depression.
Our motivation starts to lack and we see ourselves not leaving our house that much. We sit in this rainy Saturday and are surprised by a visit from our friend Lalo and his girlfriend Viri, whom we haven’t seen for a while. We prepare to warm some tea and combat the hunger once more.
Editor's note:The author, a 26-year-old native Columbian, was brought to Indianapolis 10 years ago. He's using a pseudonym because he is undocumented, despite having earned college degrees in Sociology and International Relations. Read more about the DREAM Act, and about Indy's hunger strikers, here.
Contact your senators:
Sen. Evan Bayh: 131 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510; phone, (202) 224-5623; fax, (202) 228-1377; www.bayh.senate.gov.
Sen. Richard Lugar: 306 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510-1401; phone, (202) 224-4814; fax, (202) 228-0360; www.lugar.senate.gov.
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