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Former Bernie Sanders Staffer Erika Andiola and Six Other DACA Recipients on Hunger Strike

The deadline for the U.S. federal government to pass spending legislation in order to avoid a shutdown is December 22nd. Among other things up for debate is the question of whether any spending bill should be passed without a clean DREAM Act. In order to stress the importance of this, seven “Dreamers” are on a hunger strike.

Former Bernie Sanders press secretary (and DACA recipient) Erika Andiola and six other Dreamers are currently in police custody after having been arrested on Friday during sit-ins outside the offices of Democrats Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Carlos Curbelo with the hopes that they “publicly confirm they have the votes to block any spending bill without a Clean DREAM Act.” As of this writing, they are still in custody and have refused to give names or fingerprints so that they can remain in jail.

The “Dream 7” were arrested for “overstaying business hours,” which classified their action as “unlawful entry” despite having the legal right to protest.

The Slot reports that Andiola “immigrated to Arizona at the age of 11, when her mother brought four of her siblings from Mexico to escape poverty and domestic violence. While Andiola was in college, the family home was raided, her mother lost her job, and at one point her mother and brother were arrested by ICE agents and nearly deported.” You might remember her heartbreaking account of her mother and brother being taken on YouTube.

The Slot also reports that they have received a statement from Representative Cubelo’s office saying:

“The Congressman is committed to finding a bipartisan solution for the DACA population. He’s pledged to withhold his support for any spending past Dec. 31 until action is taken on a solution. These young immigrants are contributing to our economy and society all across the country in local communities, like South Florida. They’ve lived in fear for far too long and it is past-time leadership in both Chambers allow a solution to come to the floor.”

Which leaves Senator Schumer.

An interesting discussion on Twitter as to the effectiveness of protesting Democratic Senators and Representatives as opposed to, say, Republicans in “blue states” caught my eye:

As you can see in this video showing the sit-in, and the subsequent arrests, these Dreamers are experienced activists. Many of them have been engaging in protest actions around the issue of immigration for years. If this is the strategy they’re choosing to employ, they have my full support:

A commenter over at The Slot, who also happens to be the daughter of two formerly undocumented people, gives a great breakdown of the issues at play. Those of you who are confused about what DACA is/means would do well to check it out HERE.

Meanwhile, I hope that Senator Schumer’s office makes a statement soon to stand by DACA recipients and end this strike, and I hope that our elected Democratic officials stand strong against any legislation that doesn’t allow for a clean DREAM Act.

(image: screencap)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.