Arizona Republic
August 4, 2007

(Phoenix, AZ) Author: Becky Bartkowski,

The Arizona Republic Estimated printed pages: 2


As their weeklong hunger strike began drawing to a close, seven Valley college students hoped that their action increased awareness of proposed federal legislation to allow children brought to the U.S. illegally to be placed on a path to legalization.

The students, all legal residents, began their hunger strike at 11 a.m.
Monday, vowing to consume only water until noon on Sunday.

They have refused food in hopes of spreading the word about the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, more commonly known as the DREAM Act.

Opponents of the legislation have cited it as amnesty instead of a solution.

Similar student protests are being held nationwide, but the Arizona group had additional motivation: the passage of Proposition 300 and the recently signed employer-sanctions law.

Proposition 300 requires that undocumented immigrants pay out-of-state tuition at state colleges and universities.

The proposition also prevents those without legal residency from receiving financial aid or college scholarships from state funds.

Five of the fasting students regularly host a Spanish-language radio show called El Break, which airs Sundays from noon until 2 p.m. on KNUV-AM (1190).

Five from the group were born in Mexico and two were born in the United States, said Evan Story, a Youth Strike spokesman and a friend of the protesters.

"The DREAM Act is a compromise. What better way to encourage undocumented immigrants to pursue their education?" Story said.

The students began their protest outside the Central Avenue offices of Congressman Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., because they had not seen any action from Pastor, a supporter of the bill, Story said.

It is time for leaders to "back up their talk and walk the walk" in immigration reform, Story said.

Supporters of the legislation are encouraged to give up something small for a week, whether it is television or chocolate.

"Another way of supporting the cause is to wear a green ribbon," Story said.

An estimated 300 people have already visited the protesters, Story said.

After the start of the strike, the students moved to Para Vivir Mejor Con Sergio Perez bookstore on North 16th Street.

Supporters can also visit and sign a guestbook.

CAPTION: 1) Laura Suarez (left), 22, a math major at Arizona State University, battles nausea as fellow hunger striker Diali Avila, 18, a first-year student at ASU, sits by her side during the fifth day of their seven-day hunger strike. CAPTION: 2) Laura Suarez provides support to fellow hunger striker Isela Meraz, 24, a student at Phoenix College.
Edition: Final Chaser
Section: VALLEY & State
Page: B1