HAMILTON, N.J. — Before eating America’s biggest meal of the year, New Jersey ‘dreamers’ are launching a hunger strike to pressure republican members of Congress to pass a DREAM act.
A group of undocumented young people and their supporters protested in front of Congressmen Chris Smith’s (R-NJ) office in Hamilton Monday afternoon.
"I would like for him to have the courage that I’ve unfortunately had to have,” said Adriana, 24. She did not want to give her last name. "I’ve put myself in a very vulnerable position by publicly announcing my DACA status, with people knowing that it’s going to expire soon. And I think it’s important for himself and other politicians to stand up and be on the right side of history."
Adriana was brought to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of two. DACA or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act allowed her to get a drivers license and attend college. The Trump administration ended the the Obama-era policy in September. Adriana is currently one-year away from completing a masters degree in special education.
“I’ve worked so hard to make this dream come true and to see it ripped away, especially just at that tail-end is really difficult to me,” she said. "I’m trying to fulfill my dream and there is a huge barrier, and I’m only trying to help students fulfill theirs.”
DACA gave undocumented immigrants who were brought here at a young age the legal right to live and work in the United States.
Congress has until March 5 to come up with a replacement.
Rep. Chris Smith responded to the protest outside his office by stating:
“I believe we need to find a compassionate legislative solution to protect individuals brought to the U.S. as children, and as such, I have co-sponsored the ‘Recognizing America’s Children Act,’ to provide a pathway for individuals who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16, and before January 1, 2012, to become legal permanent residents. Additionally, if the individual is currently 18 years old or older, they must also pursue vocational or higher education, enlist in the military or have a valid work authorization, and meet certain additional criteria."
Adriana and other DACA-recipients who are fasting until the holiday will be staying together at a church in Summit, New Jersey this week. They plan to protest at the offices of different Congress members daily.