How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

DREAM Act hunger strikers decide to quit

The students who began a hunger strike two weeks ago today outside California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office in Westwood have announced plans to end their strike with a vigil there tonight.

In a statement, the group that organized the hunger strike said, "Californians have been calling Senator Feinstein's office every day, and over 300 people visited the hunger strikers to show their support. The immigrant rights community has shown incredible solidarity with DREAM youth and they are ready to take the next steps forward."

The strikers' stated goal had been to convince Feinstein, already a supporter of the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, to champion the legislation as a separate bill and push it toward a vote. The DREAM Act would create a path to citizenship for qualifying 1.5 generation undocumented immigrants who were brought here as minors if they attend college or join the military.

In their statement, the students thanked Feinstein for having "spoken about the importance of passing the DREAM Act." Feinstein spokesman Gil Duran said via e-mail that the senator had not made any new statements supporting the bill in light of the strike, simply that the students were "finally acknowledging that she has been a co-sponsor of the bill since 2002."

The hunger strike began with 10 students. Some had already left for medical reasons, and the five college undergraduate and graduate students that remained on strike had grown weak. "Obviously they have lost a few pounds, but they are hanging in there," Vanessa Castillo, a spokeswoman for the group, said yesterday.

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