Dozens of DREAMers from immigrant rights groups, State University of New York, and the City University of New York are now in day three of their hunger strike in support of the NY DREAM Act.
Over 50 DREAMers began the strike after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this week that he would be dropping DREAM from the state budget after he and state legislators failed to come up with an agreement on the legislation.
DREAMers are pushing for Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and others to reinsert DREAM back in the budget, and on Wednesday rallied in front of legislative offices in downtown Manhattan.
The hunger strike has attracted a flood of both national and local attention from both Spanish and English-language media.
Monica Sibri, a 22-year-old student from Ecuador who was brought illegally to the U.S. by her family when she was 16, said during a press conference in Manhattan that this a painful situation for students like her, who struggle to pay for college.
“Our elected officials need to understand that they can’t play with our lives”, Sibri said. “Please listen to us. We need the Dream Act in the budget”.
“Esperamos que el gobernador Cuomo muestre verdadero liderazgo para que ponga al senador Dean Skelos (líder de la mayoría republicana) de vuelta en la mesa de negociación para abrir la conversación del Dream Act”, dijo el asambleísta Francisco Moya.
[“We hope Gov. Cuomo demonstrates true leadership and returns Senator Dean Skelos (leader of the Republican majority) to the negotiating table to reopen conversation about the DREAM Act,” said Assemblyman Francisco Moya.]
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-East Harlem), who has made immigration issues a hallmark of her tenure as the council leader, also urged state lawmakers to approve the funding.
“The Empire State has everything to gain with the passage of the New York Dream Act,” Mark-Viverito said in a statement, “so I strongly encourage both the Senate, Assembly and Governor to show leadership this session and carry this legislation to the finish line.”
About 50 immigration activists in Manhattan, including Guadalupe Muller, center, announced their intent to go on a hunger strike on Wednesday. The group of people, who would be affected by the proposed Dream Act, have pledged to not eat until the measure is included in the New York State budget, which has an April 1 deadline.
A MoveOn petition in support of the DREAMers has already garnered hundreds of signatures as well.
If included in the budget, New York would join California, Washington, New Mexico and Texas in allowing undocumented students access to college financial aid. Currently, at least 17 states currently allow undocumented students to pay the in-state tuition rate.