Dreamers on hunger strike in DC jail to save DACA

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They haven’t eaten since last Friday, supporters claimed. A group of Dreamers—undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. before age 16—claim to be on a hunger strike inside a D.C. jail. They’re doing this to push for the DREAM Act to pass with the spending bill Congress is expected to vote on later this week. 

In addition to the hunger strike claims, supporters said the seven DACA recipients are also purposefully putting themselves at risk for deportation the longer they stay in custody—and they are facing charges. 

“They’ve taken so much from me that they’ve taken my fear,” said Angel Fernandez. He is a 22-year-old from Arizona who is undocumented. Fernandez is in town rallying for his sister, who is one of the seven Dreamers and one supporter arrested last Friday at New York Senator Charles Schumer’s D.C. office. 

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They were trying to get a guarantee from Sen. Schumer and Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo that the two would not only vote no on the spending bill, but also whip up enough other ‘no’ votes to block the bill if it doesn’t include what protesters call, a "clean" DREAM Act. 

“I fear that Congress will not act and I fear that the action that they do take could take a more anti-immigrant stance that would either not give me protection or the protection that they do give me will be in trade for more enforcement of my community,” said Fernandez. 

He and other supporters sang “we’re fighting to all stay home” in a Monday afternoon news conference outside of the D.C. Department of Corrections. 

Supporters and an attorney for the group said the protesters are not cooperating. They said the Dreamers won’t give their full names in jail and all but Fernandez’s sister are refusing to eat. 

A spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Corrections told WUSA9 they consider a hunger strike to be more than 24 hours without food or water. If this happens, the individual is taken for medical treatment.

That hasn’t happened yet with the Dreamers, Keena Blackmon with the D.C. Department of Corrections said, but she did confirm some of the protesters are fasting or refusing to eat.

“These eight individuals are standing in for 700,000 Americans all across the country. Representing them and standing up for their rights,” said Mark L. Goldstone. 

Rep. Curbelo provided a statement in November saying he would not support any appropriations bills that fund the government past Dec. 31st unless the DACA crisis is resolved with a permanent solution through Congressional action.

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Senator Schumer’s spokesperson did not comment about the Dreamers actions, but instead said in a statement:

“We are doing everything we can to find the Republican votes to pass the Dream Act as quickly as possible, and are hopeful we’ll have a bipartisan solution soon.” 

WUSA9 reached out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, about the threat of deportation. A spokesperson said local law enforcement did notify immigration about one of the individuals arrested, but ICE did not lodge any detainers for those involved.