Illegal immigrants end hunger strike after one gets ill


— Citing safety reasons, three young women who are in the country illegally announced Monday that they're ending the hunger strike they started in downtown Raleigh two weeks ago.

The women had started the hunger strike June 14 in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, to back a bill that would allow illegal immigrants like them who were brought to this country as children a chance to be permanent residents. They said they're ending the strike because of the heat that caused one woman to be hospitalized and a threat from a known sexual predator who they said had contacted them.

"Our hunger strike is over but the fight continues," said Viridiana Martinez, 23, one of the other hunger strikers, at a rally Monday that drew more than 70 supporters. The woman have been conducting their hunger strike from tents on state land near the N.C. State Archives where they have subsisted on water, Pedialyte and Gatorade in the blistering heat.

All three women are part of the N.C. Dream Team, a group formed this spring that is pushing for the passage of the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act.

Despite not getting Hagan's support, organizers of the strike said they were pleased to have drawn public attention to the DREAM Act over the past two weeks.