DENVER – When two DREAM-Act young adults, inside the Colorado headquarters of the Obama campaign, ended their 134-hour sit-in and hunger strike of over 134 hours, they were greeted by smiles, cheers, whistles, applause, and the whirring of news cameras. Chants of “Undocumented, unafraid!” continued for several minutes as the strikers greeted and hugged those in the crowd.
DREAMers Verónica Gómez and Javier Hernández, appeared somewhat weakened but in good spirits and optimistic as they addressed a press conference attended by their companion DREAM Walkers, numerous community supporters, at least one Denver political leader and several news organizations. The other five DREAM Walkers have kept 24-hour vigil outside the campaign offices since the sit-in and hunger strike began.
Striker Gómez told the crowd one goal of the strike has been to wake up undocumented young people, saying, “We can no longer remain in the shadows.”
Fellow DREAM Walker José Sandoval told peoplesworld.org, “We’ve been walking with Veronica for a long time, so to see her take on this challenge, it just feels great.”
The young DREAMers aim to halt to the administration’s continuing mass deportation of undocumented people, and to win an executive order that would immediately end the deportation of DREAM-Act eligible youth.
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act, would provide a way to legalization and citizenship for many young people brought to the U.S. as children without legal documents, and who are working toward completing a college degree or are serving in the U.S. military.
All the undocumented participants in the DREAM Walk arrived in the U.S. as babies or young children.
The end of the hunger strike in Colorado signals the beginning of larger actions nationwide to achieve those goals, according to Jonatán Martínez, who has walked as a member of the group since the beginning. He told peoplesworld.org that in cooperation with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, actions elsewhere will begin “in a day or two” at a location that is still secret.
But it won’t be secret for long. By the end of June, the group plans to engage and mobilize undocumented people and those who support them in at least 14 states.
Hunger striker Hernández announced in Spanish that new actions will include not only more hunger strikes but arrests-an especially daring plan given that many of those taking part are undocumented and, once arrested, may face quick deportation.
The DREAM Walkers began their journey from California to the White House just over three months ago, starting at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. They expect to reach the end of their trek in five more months, just in time for the November elections.
Martínez added, “One of our main objectives has been to empower the communities. I hope that’s what we accomplish here. It feels good, it’s rewarding, but we know it’s not the end, it’s just beginning of something better here in Denver and the state of Colorado.”
In a few days the DREAM Walkers will head east from Denver across the Great Plains toward Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois.
Coloradan Ana Temu, of Longmont Youth for Equality, told us, “These dreamers sparked a fire in a lot of Colorado youth. They showed how much more we need to give of ourselves to the movement. Because of them, we’re back on the horse. Now, we’re not going to stop.”
Supporters can follow the progress of the DREAM Walkers at thedreamwalk.org, website of Campaign for an American Dream.