We are currently on a
hunger strike outside Congressman Paul Ryan’s office in Racine, Wisconsin. We chose this particular act of non-violent protest because the power structure of this country maintains a broken and inhumane immigration system.
We want to show Speaker Paul Ryan, and those who do not understand the importance of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the importance of protecting young people who were brought here as children. We are demonstrating how much we are willing to sacrifice in order to defend ourselves and our families.
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed.” The fight for justice for immigrant families in this country will not be waged by anyone but ourselves – the immigrant families that know the humiliation we have endured in this country.
If we do not fight for our future, who will? We cannot and will not sit passively waiting for DACA to be taken away, or wait for some representative to fight for us. When we applied for DACA, we told the government everything: our whole history, where we work and go to school, where our parents work. We put our faith and trust in the good will of the U.S. government, now we are asking our government to put their faith and trust in us.
Ignorance, bigotry and hatred are on the rise worldwide. Leaders create divisions among people to in order to exploit them. We cannot wait any longer for our liberty. This is our home, and this is our country. It is all we have ever known. You can try to ignore us, try to suppress our voices, try and shame us, even physically terrorize us. But this is our land, and we are here to stay. We feel it as strongly as you do.
This is bigger than politics. Our lives are under attack. Our families are being terrorized to feed the growing monster of intolerance. Nobody should live under these conditions. This is not about just us personally, but about all the 800,000 DACA recipients, who work so hard for a better future for themselves and their families. If DACA is cancelled, it will shatter our lives. This is inhumane. This is why we are on a hunger strike.
This is not a fight we chose. Our parents came to this country seeking what millions of immigrants before them sought: a brighter future for their children. We just want to live our lives in peace and contribute to our communities. The hunger strike is part of our struggle to make this a better country.
To our fellow students, we want to say: Be bold. We know it is hard to speak up, but now is the time to come together. Don’t say, “I’m not smart enough” or “I don’t know enough about politics.” Sometimes issues are so big you cannot ignore them. This is one of those times.
To the Racine School Board: We are asking you to stand up and truly protect all students in the Racine Unified School District. Show that you support us, come march with us. Don’t hold back under fear of threats from racists and the new segregationists. We need your concrete action NOW. Reaffirm your commitment that the RUSD Board of Education and all employees will uphold the existing laws that protect ALL students. Your silence is deafening.
We are asking people in Racine and across this great country to come together in solidarity with us. March with us. Call your Senators and Congressmen. Hold those in power accountable. They claim to believe in the value of hard work and the American Dream – It’s time for them to make that rhetoric into reality by passing the Dream Act.
Yes, we are hungry for food, but the hunger for justice burns even brighter in the heart and soul of everyone.
We are here to stay. Join us.
Valeria Lira Ruiz
Cendi Trujillo Tena
Cendi Trujillo Tena