Editor's note: The following is the first installment in an online diary by a member of the Latino/a Youth Collective, on hunger strike in support of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act — or, the DREAM Act. He and other youths around Indiana join hunger strikers in as many as 26 other states.
According to some estimates, the DREAM Act would grant a pathway to citizenship for as many as 2.1 million youths who were brought undocumented to this country as children, through no fault of their own, in exchange for two years of college or military service.
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.
Today at 5 p.m. we started day 11th of our hunger strike. I thought today was going to be the last day since we had calculated that the Senate was going to vote. But we were wrong. It was for the better though, since the vote was postponed.
This means that we are buying some time to get the rest of the Senators that we need so that the Dream Act passes. This also means that for about 5 more days we are going to have to endure dizziness, confusion, lack of concentration and, more than anything, the invisible force of hunger combined with our imagination — which, together, start to create all sorts of scary scenarios on when our organs will start to shut down.
Scarier, though, is the idea that we are not going to get the magical 60 votes in the Senate.
I speak with our friend Felipe Vargas who is with the San Antonio Hunger Strikers that started all this. They are on their 31st day with no food. By this time, their organs are hardly working on the energy they can get from their muscles.
One of the students from San Antonio, Lucinda Martinez, is now in a wheelchair from hunger-striking. She came back to her hometown after finishing a tour around the Senate offices in Washington D.C. Like me, she struggles everyday with the realities that this country’s immigration laws portray for millions of people.
To fear getting deported for driving without a license to work, school or church — or anywhere — is just not a way to live. Not knowing what happens with a jobless future because of a lack of a social security number is very stressful. Really it is the idea of not being recognized as a full human being that hurts the most.
Then I come back to my body. I can feel my ribs popping out, my muscles getting small, my eyes coming out of their sockets. I don’t know how much longer I can take this, especially when the energy just seems to escape after going up the stairs.
Yesterday we had great news, though. Senator Lugar came out publicly supporting the Dream Act. Even though he has been the original co-sponsor of this legislation, he was skeptical about the version in the house.
It is good to know that the new version allies with his values which are the torch that lights the way for his decisions. I am proud to say that Indiana has supported and still supports immigrant students, and stands with the ideals of justice and opportunity that this country was founded on.
As I go back to drink vegetable broth made by our lovely neighbor, I sit and get warm with an empty stomach but a mind ready to serve, my hands ready to build, and a heart full of faces and stories of thousands of undocumented students that wait for this country’s people to decide their futures. I await the realization of their dreams that have been put on hold for so many years.
Thanks to all who have been calling and please keep up the calls, prayers and the support.
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.