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DREAMers End Hunger Strike For NY DREAM Act On César Chávez Day

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Dozens of DREAMers ended their week-long hunger strike late yesterday evening after Governor Andrew Cuomo finalized the New York state budget without the inclusion of the DREAM Act.

The New York Immigration Coalition, one of the groups that had been fighting to have DREAM reinserted into the budget, released this statement:

“It is shameful that our leaders in New York State shut the door of opportunity for our State’s youth. We are squandering an important investment in our youth that would boost New York’s economy, and give hope to 4,000 young people a year who desperately want nothing more than a chance to go to college. Without the New York State DREAM Act, about ninety percent of undocumented youth graduating high school in our state won’t go to college; and of the lucky few that do, very few actually graduate because of rising tuition costs and lack of financial support. New York State and its leaders are doing a disservice to the whole State by continuing to play political football with young peoples’ lives. We will not stand idly while this happens and we will hold our State’s leaders accountable.”

Make The Road New York warned about political blowback for Gov. Cuomo and other legislators who failed to make the DREAM Act a reality:

“Though this budget season is over, their struggles are not; the issues of the minimum wage and the DREAM Act will continue to spur New Yorkers across the state to action in the coming months. The focus of their efforts will be clear: the Senators who overtly blocked these measures and a Governor who did not give them sufficient priority.”

One of the protest’s organizers, CUNY DREAMers founder and president Monica Sibri, said:

“All of those Republicans don’t think that they have DREAMers in their districts, but we’ll show them that there are DREAMers and ‘legal citizens,’ if you want to call them that, who want to help undocumented students get access to the tuition assistance program. We will stop tonight, because we know that the DREAM Act will not be in the budget at this point, [but] one of the clear messages is that we’re not giving up.”

DREAMers from immigrant groups, State University of New York, and the City University of New York began the fast following Gov. Cuomo’s announcement that he would be dropping DREAM from the state budget after he and legislators were unable to come to an agreement.

DREAMers had been documenting their progress using the #Strike4DREAM hashtag, including one protest in front of state legislative offices in downtown Manhattan that drew over 50 undocumented students and led to the hunger strike.

In no coincidence, the end of the hunger strike fell on the holiday commemorating César Chávez’s birthday, who, throughout his life, undertook a number of fasts calling attention to human and labor rights, including one lasting 36 days.

Though over 50 DREAMers completed the week-long fast, nine were present at the ceremony last night marking the end of the hunger strike.

A Storify of the event below.