By Audrey White, Daily Texan Staff Published: Monday, November 22, 2010
Andrew Torrey | Daily Texan Staff
Junior Roberto Flotte gives a Native American blessing to students participating in the hunger strike to pressure a decision on the DREAM Act on the West Mall on Monday.
Eight UT students will join a statewide hunger strike in support of the DREAM Act.
Their primary aim for the strike is to urge Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, to support the legislation, they said.
The DREAM Act would guarantee a pathway to permanent legal residency for undocumented students who came to the U.S. before the age of 16, have no criminal record and spend two years in college or the military. A group of UT-San Antonio students have been on a hunger strike since Nov. 10.
“The DREAM Act is not an amnesty bill; it will only benefit those that will contribute back to this country,” said chemistry freshman Adrian Reyna, a member of undocumented student and allies group University Leadership Initiative. “We will strike until we have a response — a response in favor not of us, but in favor of this country.”
U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced last week that he would push for the DREAM Act as a stand-alone bill in hopes of passing it during the lame-duck session. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., set it to appear before the House on Nov. 29.
Although Hutchison has expressed support for the DREAM Act in the past, she said that she will not vote for it in its current form, claiming it is too far-reaching and may benefit those who do not actually graduate from U.S. high schools. The hunger strikes will not affect her position on the legislation, said Hutchison spokeswoman Courtney Sanders.
“The senator’s position on the current legislation remains the same, but she has expressed her concern for the safety and welfare of the students who are pursuing the hunger strike,” Sanders said in a statement. “The senator appreciates their passion but strongly believes that they should pursue safer and more constructive methods of promoting their cause.”
The UT students who are participating in the hunger strike said they will continue their strike indefinitely until Hutchison agrees to support the legislation or until the U.S. Senate takes a vote.
“We feel like we have done pretty much everything else — letter writing, phone banking, rallies, press conferences,” said civil engineering senior Loren Campos, ULI president and an undocumented student. “We hope the hunger strike will create the urgency necessary to let Hutchison know that there is a support base of Texans here and across the state that want her to vote for the DREAM Act as it is.”