Dreamers Are On A Hunger Strike Until Congress Proves It's On Their Side & You Need To Know About It
On Friday, while protesting against Trump's immigration policies, Dreamers went on a hunger strike on Capitol Hill. Among them was former press secretary for Bernie Sanders, Erika Andiola. According to a tweet from Andiola herself, she remains in police custody along with six other dreamers and one ally who were present. And they're demanding one "simple" thing from New York Sen. Chuck Schumer: "prove [the] claim to support Dreamers by organizing his caucus to block any spending deal without a clean DREAM Act."
The Friday protest took place outside of Schumer's and Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo's offices. The group was reportedly arrested for staying in the building past its official hours, which is considered illegal. According to Andiola though, the self-proclaimed #Dream7 group intends on remaining in custody and continuing its hunger strike until Schumer and Curbelo take meaningful action. So far, the seven dreamers and one ally have been on a hunger strike for four presumably lengthy days. They're calling on Congress to vote on a Clean DREAM Act by Dec. 22 at the latest.
Observers online, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and DREAM activists, have called for support for the #Dream7 group in its struggle to be heard. Kai Newkirk, the mission director for the political organization Democracy Spring, tweeted,
#Dream7 [and] ally are still in jail on hunger strike at [the] risk of deportation. Day 4. We must lift up their courageous sacrifice [and] carry their message: it’s time for all who claim to stand [with] Dreamers to prove it by blocking any spending bill [without] a clean #DreamAct. #NoDreamNoDeal
You may not have heard of Andiola before. In Teen Vogue, the politically-active Latina shared her story of immigrating to Arizona from Mexico at just five years old. She said her mother fled Mexico to save herself and her children from a dysfunctional home where, according to the former press secretary, poverty and domestic abuse were part of life. For many women immigrants, crossing the border to escape domestic abuse is not a rare occurrence. If anything, organizations that work on combatting misogyny claim that it is unfortunately common.
For many young recipients of the DACA program, the idea of a DACA-less future is nothing short of terrifying. The program protects an estimated 800,000 undocumented people who came to the United States as children. After Donald Trump announced in September that the program would end though, DACA and the people it protects face uncertainty. And for dreamers, time is of the essence. DACA recipients could be deported as early as March 2018.
If you support the DACA program, there is some good news. There's still limited time for Congress members to tackle Trump's agenda. In spite of announcing back in September that the program would end, Trump mentioned that he would leave a window open for Congress to propose a solution that was humane to immigrants. "I have a love for these people and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly," Trump claimed in September. This is where figures like Schumer and Curbelo matter; their votes and their support could protect Dreamers like Andiola.
This won't be the first time a protest like this took place. Andiola's hunger strike is an addition to the list of hunger strikers against Trump and his immigration policies. In April, for example, about 750 immigrants carried out a massive hunger strike in Tacoma, Washington, for at least five days. Whether you consider the April hunger strike or this month's hunger strike, it's clear that the resistance against Trump isn't slowing anytime soon — especially when dreamer's futures are in limbo.