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Fasting for a DREAM

By March 28, 2006 No Comments

From September 13th to September 25th, organizations across the nation participated in the National DREAM Fast Vigil Campaign to highlight the urgency and the need for accountability around the DREAM Act.NAKASEC was the initiating organization on the national level to promote the concept and together with other student and immigrant rights organizations transformed the concept to life.NAKASEC and its affiliates the Korean Resource Center (KRC), Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC), and YKASEC-Empowering the Korean American Community all played a significant role in this effort.

Los Angeles
The DREAM Fast Vigil Campaign in Los Angeles was the only 2-week fasting effort that took place other than Oregon.The initiating organizations were NAKASEC, Korean Resource Center, and the Coalition for the Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).Held in the outskirts of the University of Southern California USC campus, the DREAM Act Fast Vigil attracted many supporters and broad media coverage including the LA Times, Pacifica and National Public Radio. Two-week fasters, Dae Joong Yoon, executive director at the Korean Resource Center and Jennifer Park, KRC volunteer were by five 1-week fasters as well as those that fasted for either 24-hours or 48-hours.Overall, over 50 fasters participated in support of the DREAM Act.

Some of the significant achievements of the Los Angeles DREAM Act Fast Vigil campaign included an endorsement from California State Assemblymember Mark Ridley Thomas (District 48) and the reinforcement of the support for the bill from the Los Angeles Community College Board.

New York
In New York, YKASEC-Empowering the Korean American Community joined forces with the New York Immigration Coalition NYIC and other immigrant rights organizations to fast for 5-days for immigrant rights issues including the DREAM Act, drivers’ license for undocumented immigrants, and civil liberties.On September 16, DREAM Act day, six youth from YKASEC-Empowering the Korean American Community participated in a 24-hour fasting.During a press conference held at the Interfaith Center in Manhattan, Inkyu Kang, a Korean American high school spoke on the urgency of the legislation for many undocumented immigrant students. Yu Soung Mun, executive director at YKASEC, also urged Korean American community members to contact the White House and Congress in support of the bill.

Overall, YKASEC mobilized 10 people to participate in the 5-day fast action in New York among which 2 staff members, including the executive director, fasted for the full five days.The action was covered by many ethnic and local media as well as the New York Times.

Chicago
Esther Surim Hong, who participated in the New American Freedom Summer program as a representative of the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center fasted for the full 2-week period. Based in Chicago, Esther spent part of her time in California in solidarity with the fasters in Los Angeles.She represented an important voice among Korean American youth taking a stand on an issue that impacts bright students who have promising futures and yet are not able to adjust fully into society because of their legal status.

There were other fasting actions that occurred in different part of the country such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Maryland, Texas, Massachusetts, Oregon, Tennessee, and Colorado. In total, fast actions occurred in over 10 states motivating over 500 people to fast.

On September 24th, the National Day of Solidarity, over 200 individuals in over 20 states fasted for 24-hours in support of the DREAM Act.Among the individuals included were Representative Howard Berman (D-CA), Dolores Huerta Labor Leader and co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and Winona LaDuke, Environmentalist and Indigenous Rights Activist.