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North Carolina

On hunger strike for immigrant youth justice

By Kosta Harlan |
June 20, 2010
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Raleigh, NC - On June 18, two Raleigh students ended a hunger strike that was aimed at raising pressure on NC Senator Kay Hagan to support the DREAM Act. The hunger strike lasted 1.5 million seconds (17 days), symbolic of the 1.5 million undocumented immigrant students who would benefit from passage of the DREAM Act.

Joanna Banegas, a student at NC State University, and Monserrate Alvarez, a student in Raleigh, kicked off the fast on May 28 with a rally at the North Carolina Capitol building. At the rally, Banegas declared, "I am fasting because I believe it is a way to demonstrate how vital the DREAM Act is for everyone, not just for undocumented students."

Even as the 1.5 million second hunger strike ended, a new one by three North Carolina students began on June 18 in downtown Raleigh, also targeting Kay Hagan to support the DREAM Act. 

The DREAM Act would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth that entered the U.S. before the age of 16, have no criminal record, and complete a college degree or two years of military service. Many in the immigrants’ rights movement are opposed to the military duty requirement and want to see community service instead.

The hunger strikes are part of the "Senator Hagan Co-Sponsor my Dream Campaign", a movement to ask Democratic Party Senator Kay Hagan to become a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act. Nayely Perez-Huerta, a community organizer for El Pueblo and a supporter of the campaign, said, "Our youth and allies have decided to fast because they recognize the importance of the DREAM Act. We believe in the benefits this legislation would bring not only to the undocumented students that have grown up in this country, but also to the wellbeing of our state and nation."

The passage of the DREAM Act would be an important victory for the immigrants’ rights movement and provide real benefits to millions of undocumented immigrant youth. While pushing forward the struggle for partial reforms such as the DREAM Act, progressives in the immigrants’ rights movement continue to demand "Legalization Now!" and full equality for all undocumented youth and workers.