We Spoke to the Jailed Activists on Hunger Strike to Protect DACA

Activists launched an all-out effort demanding that elected officials pass a clean DREAM Act.

Dec 20 2017, 5:30pm

Image via #NoDreamNoDeal

Eight individuals, including seven Dreamers and one ally as part of the #OURDREAM movement, have been detained in a Washington, D.C. jail cell as part of a hail mary effort to force a vote on restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Since President Trump rescinded DACA earlier this year, a policy put in place by President Obama to protect people who illegally - and unwittingly- were brought to the U.S. as children, close to a million undocumented youth are at risk of losing their jobs and being deported from the country they’ve always called home. Now it's up to federal elected officials to pass a DACA bill for these young people to remain in the country legally -- most of whom are working, getting an education and positively contributing to society.

DACA activists from Fight for Our Dream-- many of whom are undocumented themselves -- amped up their message of civil disobedience and hunger strikes demanding that Congress passes a clean DREAM Act, which would ensure a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth with no strings attached like harmful enforcement amendments or border funding.

Lu Aya, a poet with the Peace Poets and friend of the Dream7 , got to interview the jailed activists from jail on Monday, December 18.

Li Adorno, 24, New Jersey, DACA recipient (left jail 12/19)

Why are you taking on this risk?
I am tired of the politicians lying to me and my community. We have been waiting since 2001 for them to pass the DREAM Act. Now there are many politicians telling us they are with us and now they have the opportunity to follow through on what their own words.

Hector-Jairo Martinez, 26, New York City, DACA recipient (left jail 12/19)

How are you feeling about how every day inside jail increases the risk of detention and deportation?
It’s breaking you down. It’s breaking you down, mentally. You’re exposed. You’re exposed.

What inspired you personally to take on this risk for DREAM Act
To tell my people that they have a voice and they can make a change.

Cata Santiago, 20, Homestead, Florida, DACA recipient

Anything you want the public to know, [or] other Dreamers?
We are here and we will not give up.

Barbara Hernandez, 25, Los Angeles, California, DACA recipient

How are you feeling? What do you feel for tomorrow?
I’m a bit nervous. I’m scared. This isn’t a place we all want to be at. But we know it has to be done.

Jeffrey Fuentes, 27, Maryland, Ally

How have you and your team faced the challenges of the hunger strike?
We’re remembering why we are doing this. And we’ve been sticking together.

What inspired you personally to take action for the Dream Act?
My friends and family and just seeing people affected. Having that being taken away and lot of people scrambling for their lives and worrying 24/7 what’s gonna happen next. That’s what’s inspired me.

Has being on hunger strike inside changed your perspective at all?
It definitely has humbled me. Seeing people and their dedication. And in some cases, some people don’t even have a choice. Definitely has given me a perspective.

Juan Carlos Carabantes, 22, Homestead, Florida, DACA recipient

What is your message to fellow Dreamers from inside?
My message is to continue the fight. To continue calling, sitting in, going to your Congressman or whoever and to not give up. We are willing to put everything on the line for them to have everything so they should rise up and not to take no for an answer.

What inspired you to take this action and do this hunger strike for the Dream Act?
What inspired me was seeing so many actions across the US. That inspired me to see people rising up.

And then some:

A few elected officials have recently spoken out in favor of supporting DACA -- including New York Senator and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer -- but it’s going to require a greater congressional effort to make a clean DREAM Act a reality.

What you can do

To learn more and help out the cause, visit FightforourDream.org

If you believe that undocumented youth who arrived in the U.S. as kids deserve to stay here, then reach out your member of congress and tell them where you stand on this issue