Arizona Republic
July 31, 2007

Author: Daniel González, The Arizona Republic Estimated printed pages: 2

Seven local students began a weeklong hunger strike Monday to show their support for a federal proposal that would allow undocumented students to earn legal status by completing two years of college or military service.

The fasters also are protesting state laws aimed at restricting employment and educational opportunities for undocumented immigrants in Arizona, including the new employer-sanctions law and Proposition 300, a ballot measure that requires undocumented students to pay more costly out-of-state tuition.

By gaining legal status "these students will be able to earn higher salaries and pay higher taxes," said Luis Avila, 25, an Arizona State University student. "I don't see how anyone can argue that a less-educated society is better for the state."

Avila and six other fasters announced their fast Monday outside the offices of U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., a co-sponsor of the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act.

Pastor spokeswoman Maura Saavedra said the congressman is hoping the bill will come up for a vote this fall.

"As a former high school teacher, I fully appreciate the importance of higher education and support ensuring that all long-time residents of the United States be offered the opportunity to seek a college degree," Pastor said in a statement.

The bill has bipartisan support and was included as part of the comprehensive immigration-reform bill that died earlier this month in the Senate. Opponents contend the DREAM Act is a form of amnesty that would reward people who entered the country illegally.

Avila said the fasters will drink only water during the seven days. Other students will be giving up their cellphones, video games or making other sacrifices to show their support for the DREAM Act, Avila said.

The fast is part of events taking place in cities across the country to drum up support for the DREAM Act.

Reach the reporter at daniel.gonzalez@ or (602)
Edition: Final Chaser
Section: VALLEY & State
Page: B8

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Record Number: pho172606525