EDITOR’S NOTE: Latino Rebels received the following media release on Wednesday afternoon from the Seed Project.
BREAKING: Seven Young Undocumented Immigrants to Leave Jail and End Hunger Strike in Order to Confront Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Final Days to Pass Spending Bill with the Dream Act
Concluding historic jail protest, 7 undocumented youth and 1 ally will hold Sen. Schumer accountable for remaining silent on confirming votes for a Clean Dream Act in the spending bill
Washington, DC – After an unprecedented six days in jail on hunger strike, seven young undocumented immigrants and one ally will be released on Wednesday evening, pledging to hold Sen. Schumer (D-NY) and Congress accountable during the last chance to pass a clean Dream Act this year. Following their arrest on Friday for peaceful demonstrations at the offices of Schumer and Rep. Curbelo (R-FL), the eight activists chose to not identify themselves to police when asked their names, remaining jail and risking deportation for one clear demand: that Sen. Schumer (D-NY) passes a Clean Dream Act now by rejecting any version of the spending bill that do not include permanent protection for undocumented youth.
“Seven years ago I was arrested for the first time fighting for the Dream Act,” said Erika Andiola, one of the DACA recipients in a statement made before her release. “I did this because I fight for my family to be able to stay together. Seven years later, Sen. Schumer and the rest of the Democratic party have the opportunity to once and for all pass legislation that protects undocumented youth and ensures I am not separated from my mom. The time is now for Sen. Schumer to ensure that no spending bill passes without a Clean Dream Act.”
Due to Sen. Schumer’s inaction and apparent decision to drop the Dream Act as a priority, Erika, Cata Santiago (DACA recipient), Barbara Hernandez (DACA recipient), Juan Carlos Carabantes (DACA recipient), Belen Sisa (DACA recipient), Li Adorno (DACA recipient), and Hector-Jairo Martinez (DACA recipient) —named the #Dream7 on social media last weekend— and ally Jeffrey Fuentes have chosen to leave jail and end their hunger strike in order to directly confront his betrayal of undocumented youth and pressure him to not allow a spending bill to go through without a Clean Dream Act.
“Time and time again politicians have failed to stand by our community,” said Cata. “Now, at the peak of the Dream Act fight, Chuck Schumer and the Democrats won’t hold their promises to protect us. That’s why, after sacrificing so much in jail for these six days, we are leaving now–because we need to continue mobilizing. The only way we will win is by fighting for our community ourselves, and not relying on politicians like Schumer who just end up letting us down and betraying Dreamers.”
Reneging on public statements made following the repeal of DACA on September 5, Schumer has failed to take a stand for a clean Dream Act and prioritize protection for Dreamers by the end of the year. Reports indicate that he is committed to ongoing negotiations that would protect undocumented youth in exchange for border security and immigration enforcement, walking back his and House Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA)’s strong disavowal of using Dreamers as political “bargaining chips” earlier this year.
DACA recipient Belen commented, “I am leaving jail to deliver a message to Sen. Schumer. He has said repeatedly he stands with Dreamers and that we need a Dream Act by the end of the year. We gave him a chance to put those words into action but he failed us. He let me spend six days behind bars, with no food, the risk of ICE involvement increasing every day. It’s unbelievable that the incredible sacrifices we have made are not enough to push Schumer to take more risk himself and rally the necessary votes. My community stood by me, but Chuck Schumer did not.” Belen, originally scheduled for release on Tuesday along with Li Adorno and Hector Jairo Martinez, remained in jail for a fifth night out of solidarity so that all seven DACA recipients and the one ally could be released to fight together on Wednesday.
Since their original arrest last Friday, the “Dream 7” and their ally have activated thousands of supporters and sparked national and local media attention, including coverage from Telemundo, Univision, Democracy Now!, The Young Turks, Wall Street Journal, and CBS News. Immigrants and allies have organized over 30 solidarity vigils and actions across the country and called on their members of Congress to meet the activists’ demands. Sen. Hirono (D-HI), Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY), and several members of the House have answered their call for #NoDreamNoDeal and confirmed this week that they will vote against any year-end spending bill that does not include protection for Dreamers.
Other members of Congress who claim to “stand with Dreamers”–including Sen. Schumer and dozens of Democrats and Republicans who have publicly advocated for a clean Dream Act by the end of the year–have yet to pledge action with regards to blocking the spending bill, with many now citing the White House’s March 5 deadline to pass legislation protecting DACA recipients.
“The reality is that far too many legislators don’t see the Dream Act as a priority. They’ve let our lives hang in the balance for 16 years. They never deliver, so why would I believe another promise? Every day they wait, my community is at risk for detention and deportation. We will lose work permits and jobs, not be able to continue school or provide for or families. By staying silent Schumer is letting us know that he really does see Dreamers as ‘bargaining chips.’ I won’t give him the power to negotiate away my dignity,” said Li Adorno, another DACA recipient being released. “When I leave jail today, I will confront him for betraying the sacrifices I have made. Any spending bill he votes for without a clean Dream Act is a vote for our deportation.”
Upon their release, the Dream 7 and ally will join hundreds of undocumented youth are currently in Washington, DC who continue to press Sen. Schumer and Congress on #NoDreamNoDeal.