RALEIGH, NC -- Rosario Lopez, 25; Viridiana Martinez, 23; and Loida Silva, 22, set up tents across the street from the state legislative building in downtown Raleigh and have subsisted on water, Pedialyte and Gatorade since June 14.
The three young women living illegally in the U.S. since childhood haven't eaten in more than a week in the hope of persuading U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan to back a bill that could make them legal residents.
But they were unable to convince Hagan, a Democrat whose staff announced Tuesday afternoon she will not co-sponsor a bill that would allow illegal immigrants who arrived as children a chance at becoming permanent residents. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, North Carolina's Republican senator, also will not back the bill, according to his spokesman.
All three freely admit they are living in the country illegally, Martinez and Silva's families overstayed travel visas, and Lopez entered illegally as a young teenager.
They say they're angry and frustrated at the barriers in immigration laws that leave them with slim chances of going to college or getting jobs other than under-the-table work.
They plan to continue their hunger strike, hoping to pressure Hagan to change her stance on the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act).
The federal legislation, which has floated around Congress for years, would give children who came to the U.S. illegally a chance to get permanent residency if they attend college or join the military. It could also open up chances to take out federal student loans and or allow them to pay in-state tuition in their home states.
North Carolina, which had the fastest-growing Hispanic population in the nation in the 2000 Census, has had a sharp debate about whether illegal immigrants should have access
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