SAN ANTONIO - Thirteen Texas students carrying out a hunger strike here have reached their 15th day. They are pushing for Congress to pass the DREAM Act.
The bill (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) was first introduced into Congress in 2001.
The hunger strike at the University of Texas in San Antonio is part of a series of strikes, rallies and candlelight vigils at universities across the state.
The actions have inspired the parents of a student, Yasmina, to join in the hunger strike.
With the hunger strike reaching its 15th day, the students have brought a sense of urgency and a deeper level of commitment to the movement, as undocumented students are coming out into the open, risking deportation and possibly death.
The United Methodist Church and First United Unitarian Church of San Antonio have lent support, in addition to a number of community organizations.
Thirty Texas Catholic nuns from various orders and congregations sent a letter to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, calling on her to meet with the hunger strike students.
Some years ago Sen. Hutchison supported the DREAM Act. Not so in the Congress of 2010. People here feel she might change her mind and support the bill again, as she is retiring at the end of this term.
The nuns wrote to the senator, "These young people like other figures in our nation's history are standing up for something they believe in ... making enormous sacrifices to secure a remedy for some 210,000 fellow students in Texas and 2 million similar students nationwide."
The letter continued, "A number of these students have been pursuing ‘constructive' methods for promoting comprehensive immigration reform including the DREAM Act for the past 10 years."
The Catholic sisters asked Hutchison to meet with the students and engage in "open dialogue" with them, "not admonish them."
On November 18, a group of undocumented youth met with Sen. Hutchison and brought a message from the San Antonio hunger strikers.
She refused at that time to make a statement of support for the DREAM Act, claiming her interest in a visa process instead of legislation. One youth, Jose Torres-Don, said, "We have lobbied the senator for years, she knows our circumstances and we will not be used as a political football."
The public is urged to contact Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and ask her to meet with the striking students.