We’ve been publishing a series of posts from the DREAMers of the Campaign for an American DREAM. Last month, they set off from San Francisco to begin a 3,000-mile, 8-month+ walk to Washington, DC to call attention to the DREAM Act and the need for immigration reform.
Today’s post is from Veronica Gomez, a DREAMer from the San Francisco Bay Area.
There are two numbers that will forever be embedded in my soul, mind, and body: the number 6 and the number 144. They stand for the 6 days and 144 hours Javier Hernandez and I had spent inside the Obama for America (OFA) Office in Denver, Colorado on a hunger strike. Our demands were simple:
We were asking Obama to use his executive power to stop deporting dreamers.
If you would have told me a year ago that I would be going on a hunger strike in Denver inside of an Obama For America office, I would have said you were crazy.
It all started when we, at the Campaign for an American Dream (CAD), were talking about actions that were going to take place nationwide. We discussed how CAD was going to empower the immigrant community of Denver, Co, and came up with the idea of a hunger strike. It then came down to who from CAD was going to do the action at OFA. I remember writing a note to Jon–“I’m really tempted to do this.” I looked at Javier, he looked at me, and my mind was made up. I had to do this for the community.
This action truly changed my life in ways I cannot even begin to explain and no one will ever understand. As minutes turned into hours and hours turned into days inside the OFA office, I began to see different faces turning to support us. I am truly amazed and grateful at how the community not only in Denver, but nationwide, came together to stand in solidarity with this action. All their messages gave me the energy to continue as days passed, even as I felt my body deteriorating.
I hadn’t told my family about the action, but they found out through the social media grapevine that the action was taking place. At first, they didn’t agree with what I was doing and asked why I would put myself at risk. Eventually, they gave me their blessing and unconditional support, which took the weight off my shoulders.
The community of Denver was amazing every day we were in the OFA office. Undocumented youth showed courage by coming out of the shadows to strangers and the media. And I’ll never forget the vigils that took place outside the office each night as they lit a candle for each hour we were on a hunger strike. People from different cultures, organizations, politicians, and strangers came together for one thing and one thing only: to stand up for human rights.
The moral of my story is: I encourage all undocumented youth to come out the shadows, find your voice, and fight for your future because when you do it for yourself, people will stand with you.