Editor's note: NUVO's hunger-striker-cum-diarist of the last week, Camilo Torres (a pseudonym), an undocumented Colombian native, college graduate and Indianapolis resident of 10 years, has taken time off, citing ill health and disorientation. A slim young man to begin with, he has lost 12 pounds in the last two weeks and, as such has been compelled to resume eating some solid foods.
We thank him deeply for his contribution and dedication. (For more about the hunger strikers and for more about the DREAM Act, including updates, go here.)
A new voice — and fellow hunger striker — has risen to take his place. Dolores Libertad (also a pseudonym) is a 22-year-old, Indianapolis-based college student, who was born in Mexico and brought to Indiana seven years ago. She continues to maintain a liquids-only hunger strike, now into week three, in support of the DREAM Act. If passed, the DREAM Act would establish a pathway to citizenship for undocumented children of immigrants who have completed two years of college or military service.
See below for information on how to contact your Indiana senators.
I think it is day 15…
The days feel so long, even though they are all the same length and even though they actually appear shorter due to late sunrises and early sunsets. Moments seem to merge together. Every once in a while I feel stuck in time.
A few hours of sleep, a cup of tea, a cup of rice water, that is all.
I scramble to get ready but can’t find my accounting notes! I search and search but nothing.
It’s late so I leave without them: No studying-as-I-walk for me today…
I trust I’ve studied enough. The crossing is cold and cloudy.
I sit down at my desk just in time to start.
It’s only the second day of finals and I've already braved four of them — with two more to go and a couple of essays. The days become increasingly hard as my concentration fails and my thoughts slip away in random directions. Tiredness wins and I have to stop and recharge, even though I wish I had the energy of a couple energy drinks to keep studying. (But that just seems like a bad scenario with no food down my stomach… Wasn’t it light outside a few minutes ago?) Fasting makes finishing finals week a frontier difficult to reach; but it’s so close!
This frontier is like today’s frontier between the shadows of undocumented-ness and full, recognized humanity for many DREAM students. The difference is that the one between finals and Christmas break is a lot easier to bridge than this great frontier of shadows and light. If only the Senate would bring it to the floor. If only our elected officials would realize that we, too, are humans and that we, too, have grown up in this country just as they did.
If only they could look each of us in the eye and see our potential — I see it every time I talk with my friends. Their eyes gleam with hope for a bright future and an exciting career in medicine, science, public policy, technology, business, the arts etc. I am sure if they saw what I see, senators would demand a vote and make things happen. Instead, we are the subject of their politics, but never a part of them… we are captive campaign slogans for the left and the right.
A growl coming from my empty stomach brings me back to reality; I need to study… but the thoughts persist and I remember all that Senator Lugar talked about in his Address at Marian University Sunday night. I remember sitting with my fellow hunger strikers hearing about his support for the DREAM Act, about the waiting game in the Senate and the votes… Then I hear a faint drum and the thought “one heart, one mind” comes to my head and I remember that even though I think myself small in the grand scheme of things — along with all those who are fasting and all of us who have DREAMS of crossing the shadows — we are mighty.
Now, let’s get back to studying; after all, our success depends on our education.
Contact Indiana Senators Bayh and Lugar to express your support or opposition to the bill:
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.