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Man on hunger strike for illegal immigrants

Posted March 12, 2012

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— A Winston-Salem man on a hunger strike at the Wake County jail and facing deportation says that he wants to bring attention to U.S. immigration laws and how they are affecting immigrants who have been raised in America yet cannot obtain citizenship as adults.

"I had no control over whether or not I wanted to come to this country, but I'm here, and I'm a contributing member of society," 24-year-old Uriel Alberto, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, said Monday.

Alberto began fasting 10 days ago – two days after he and two other people with the advocacy groups El Cambio and N.C. Dream Team – were charged Feb. 29 with misdemeanor disorderly conduct after they interrupted a legislative committee meeting on immigration laws.

"The last two days have been extremely difficult to stay with it mentally," he said. "I'm getting through it."

Already having lost 20 pounds, he plans to fast another 10 days in an effort to empower others to speak out for the way, he says, illegal immigrants have to live under the radar and often fear being deported.

"We can't live in the shadows, because if we do, then the same things that have happened (legislation regarding illegal immigrants) in Alabama and in Arizona are going to happen here," Alberto said.

"(Lawmakers) are going to make it impossible for immigrants – whether illegal or legal – to live in this state," he continued. "We can't sit back and let these men who aren't informed on the issues make decisions based on their personal agendas without us having a say-so."

Uriel Alberto Man on hunger strike for illegal immigrants

Alberto says he was raised in the U.S. since he was 7 years old. He went to school and says he studied at college until he could no longer afford it. He works full-time and has a 2-year-old son, Julian.

"A lot of us don't know anything else. I consider myself a Southern gentleman. It's a shame that I'm going to be sent back to a country I know nothing about – that I haven't lived in in 18 years," he said. "This is all I know. This is my life. I live by the principles of this land."

The other two protesters, Estephania Mijangos-Lopez, 20, of Sanford, and Cynthia Martinez, 21, of Broadway, were released last week, partially because they had clean records.

Alberto has several traffic violations, although his attorney, Beckie Moriello, says he's resolved most of them. North Carolina Department of Correction records show he also has four convictions for driving with a revoked license.

"I knew what I was up against, and I knew the consequences of my actions," he said. "If we could go back in time and I had the choice of doing it again, I'd do it in a heartbeat."

Moriello says she plans to file a request Tuesday in immigration court in Charlotte to get him out of jail on bond. A court hearing will likely happen Thursday.

"Hopefully, the judge on Thursday will see that my merit and my accomplishments will outweigh any petty traffic tickets that I accumulated over the course of many years," Alberto said.

Moriello says his only option to stay in the country is something called "cancellation of removal." To comply, a judge has to find the person has been in country for 10 years, is of good moral character, and has a child that would suffer if he is deported. She says these cases are very difficult to win.

"I'm a victim of this immigration issue, and (my son's) gradually becoming a victim of this immigration issue," Alberto said. "More than anything, I'm standing up for us -- for him, for me."


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  • Follow_The_Money27617 Mar 13, 2012

    We can't deport him - he votes Democratic!
    March 13, 2012 10:48 a.m.
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    No there are capitalist that need his cheap labor. You're are beyond brainwashed. Please just turn off your TV! You compare driving to citizenship. LOL tbagger?

  • Follow_The_Money27617 Mar 13, 2012

    Why do I need an ID to DRIVE when I don't need one to VOTE?
    March 13, 2012 10:49 a.m.

    Ummm I dont know. Maybe because voting is a RIGHT and driving is a PRIVELEDGE? No way that couldnt be right. Poor people. Get well soon!

  • aetius476 Mar 13, 2012

    "He might have had insurance through work..." - AfricanQueen

    How could he have insurance through work if he, being an illegal alien without a SS#, is not elligible to work in the US?

    Could it be his employer is breaking the law? Could he be in possession of and using fraudulent US government documents?

    Surely not, seeing as how he is such a fine, model citizen...

  • bngexpress Mar 13, 2012

    these criminal immigrants commit a felony when they cross the boarder ! false i.d. another felony ! all of this before they ever lift a hand to go to work , our system for immigration is difficult for a reason, to control the number of immigrants coming to this country.

  • aetius476 Mar 13, 2012

    "Enjoy following all the laws but people such as myself have woken up from the grip of 'the man' and realize how silly it is to follow every law." - Jim-Jones

    Agreed Jim. No more April 15 "tax day" for me. I'm free! Let "the man" pay his own way...

  • reel4fun Mar 13, 2012

    proudmommy........so if he is from Mexico we should say he is from someplace else........going to take a stab and say.....you probably beleive the Civil War was fought to free the slaves too......talk about uneducated.

  • ufcx3 Mar 13, 2012

    I feel some sympathy for this particular case and cases like this. This man really didn't have a choice. He was here since the age of 7 and this is all that he really knows. I think that we as American Born Citizens have a since of entitlement because we happen to have came into the world here. These people are no less human than we are. If a person will come here, pay taxes, commit no crimes, learn to speak english, and contribute to society just like the american born people can I don't see the problem. I do not want to have to accomodate for the language barrier though. That should be a responsibility of anyone coming to another country.

    very true!!!!

  • reel4fun Mar 13, 2012

    So now we have illegals in this country protesting the fact that they are being deported and we listen to them. What's next murderers getting support becuse they think they shouldn't be in prison. As I have said many times......this country is in the toilet.

  • ncouterbanks69 Mar 13, 2012

    If a person will come here, pay taxes, commit no crimes, learn to speak english, and contribute to society just like the american born people can I don't see the problem.

    Most people would not have a problem with this. As long as it is done legally. Speak English (very important), commit no crimes (doubtful but if true very important) and pay taxes (most important). I would, and I believe most would, welcome people from any country in this world that followed those three rules. There are plenty that do. However, one of the rules (commit no crimes) is already broken if you come here without going through the legal process.

  • LambeauSouth Mar 13, 2012

    deynnalee when someone resorts to name calling we all can only surmize that the individual is clearly defensive and generally lacking in knowledge

    He is illegal, exactly where would the money come from for a "real doctor" as you call them as if the folks at DHH are not?
    So they go to a Real Doctor with "Cash in hand" really?
    as I said when the dirt starts falling on your head, time to stop digging!