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Desperate to Stay in U.S., 'Dreamers' Declare Hunger Strike

Undocumented young people will visit offices of congressional Republicans in New Jersey, foregoing food until Thanksgiving dinner

Dreamers
A demonstration in support of "dreamers" earlier this year in New York City

As the fate of undocumented young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children is left to Congress, seven so-called dreamers from New Jersey and a handful of allies are avoiding any food until the most American of meals — Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. 

Each day until then, they are visiting offices of congressional Republicans in New Jersey, demanding that lawmakers renew the President Barack Obama program that granted temporary legal status to hundreds of thousands of "dreamers." President Donald Trump has announced the end to Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA) and told Congress to find a permanent solution by March as part of a larger immigration overhaul that could also include plans for more border security. 

"I'm sitting here looking at my last meal and trying to imagine what my meals would be like if I was sent back to Mexico," said dreamer Adriana Delgado of Toms River, in a recording she made for WNYC as she prepared to eat her final dinner before the hunger strike. "Meals where I wouldn't be able to share dinner with my father and sister anymore. Meals in a country I don't know."

Delgado is in school to be a special education teacher. She has spent 22 of her 24 years in the U.S. "People think that I'm crazy for doing this hunger strike, but I'm willing to suffer for three days if it means not suffering for a lifetime," she said. "There will be thousands of families who will have broken dinner tables if nothing is done."

According to Make The Road NJ, which is organizing the hunger strike, the dreamers will be staying at a church all week and visiting the offices of the five New Jersey Republicans in Congress. Advocates want a "clean" bill passed by Congress that is not tied to conservative immigration proposals, like funding for more deportations or construction of a larger wall on the Mexican border.

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