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DREAM Act protesters occupy Obama campaign office

DREAM Act protesters occupy Obama campaign office

June 7th, 2012 by REMA RAHMAN, Associated Press in News

DENVER (AP) - Two activists on a hunger strike occupied a Colorado campaign office for President Barack Obama on Thursday to demand that he sign an executive order allowing children of illegal immigrants to enroll in college and the military and pursue U.S. citizenship.

Obama campaign staffers were using a back door to access the Denver field office as the protesters occupied a couch. The office was closed to the public.

Veronica Gomez, 24, of Antioch, Calif., and Javier Hernandez, 23, of Denver, vowed to only drink fluids until Obama implements the DREAM Act, which would allow the children of illegal immigrants to enroll in college or the military as a way to eventually establish citizenship or permanent residency in the U.S.

Gomez and Hernandez are illegal immigrants who graduated from college.

"We're not playing games," said Hernandez, a native of Mexico. Other activists planned similar protests at Obama campaign offices across the country, he said.

In a written statement, the Obama campaign said it agrees that "DREAMers" who serve in the military or go to college should become citizens.

However, it said passing the DREAM Act, which has stalled in Congress, "requires that Republicans stop standing in the way."

Gomez and other illegal immigrant protesters were walking from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., to advocate for the DREAM Act. She and Hernandez decided to occupy the Denver office because Colorado is considered a presidential swing state, protester Jonatan Martinez, 25, said.

Police said no action would be taken unless they get a complaint. The campaign said it planned no immediate action.

Tuition for illegal immigrants is a sensitive issue in Colorado. In April, state lawmakers rejected a measure to join 12 other states that allow illegal immigrant students to pay in-state or subsidized tuition at state colleges, rather than out-of-state tuition.

On Thursday, board members at Metropolitan State College of Denver decided to offer illegal immigrant students a lower tuition rate that is half the out-of-state tuition rate. College president Stephen Jordan said the new rate would affect about 300 students this fall.