Three women, all of whom freely admit that they came to this country illegally as children, ended a two-week hunger strike yesterday. The trio had hoped to pressure Sen. Kay Hagan into signing onto the DREAM Act, an immigration reform bill.
Hagan last week refused to cosponsor the bill, but at a ceremony Monday night marking the end of the strike, the protesters said they did succeed in bringing attention to immigration reform and the issues faced by people who came to the United States as children and face little opportunity beyond high school.
The three had been camped out across the street from the state legislature since beginning the strike two weeks ago.
Rosario Lopez and Viridiana Martinez ended their two-week hunger strike Monday with a ceremony at their encampment in downtown Raleigh.
Loida Silva, 23, fell ill with what friends called a combination of dehydration and heat stroke. She went to the hospital Sunday, but by last night Silva was home, eating and watching the ceremony in downtown Raleigh via an internet video connection.
Dominick Powell, who has been working with the three hunger strikers, said that the three had been threatened over email by a known sexual predator who has targeted immigrant women. Powell wouldn’t give much detail except to say that “the appropriate authorities have been notified.”
The three women, Silva, Rosario Lopez, 25, and Viridiana Martinez, 23, have all lived in central North Carolina since they were children. They are members of the NC Dream Team, an organization established to help pass the bill that would create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that came here as children.
Martinez, speaking to a crowd of more than 70 who had gathered to mark the end of the strike, said, “We’re not asking for a free ride.”
She continued, “The system is broken. There is no pathway. There is no ‘go back to your country and get in line.’ There is no line.”
Lopez said they relied on their friends and supporters, not just to watch the downtown Raleigh encampment over night, but by the end they needed help walking. “Even to talk became very hard,” Lopez said.
Lopez and Martinez said they ended the strike with vegetables and soup for breakfast Monday morning.
Read more about the strikers, their motivations and the DREAM Act here.