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Piedmont group on hunger strike to support undocumented immigrant

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A group of Piedmont students have not eaten for more than 100 hours in support of an undocumented immigrant from Winston-Salem who wants to be a U.S. citizen.

Members from the group El Cambio, which translates to The Change, have been on a hunger strike since Monday night.

"I feel so weak. It's crazy. You just feel like you need a nap constantly," said Silvia Rodriguez, an El Cambio member who is participating in the hunger strike.

When asked if she was willing to die for the cause, Rodriguez said, "Yes. If it makes people more aware of the cause, I am."

The group is striking in support of Uriel Alberto, who has been in the United States illegally since he was 7. He is at risk for being deported since he has a DUI on his record.

Police arrested Alberto Feb. 29 after disrupting a select committee meeting in Raleigh. Alberto began his hunger strike the night of his arrest.

"I'm undocumented, unafraid, unashamed," Alberto said at the meeting. "I did something for myself, and I didn't just lay down and let these men pass laws that affected myself and my community without putting my two cents in."

"It's very disrespectful to interrupt a meeting, but to just stand up they should not have received that much hatred," Rodriguez said.

Alberto and members of El Cambio want citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants--some of whom, as Rodriguez put it, unknowingly broke the country's first laws before they said their first words.

"Some of these kids were two years old when they were brought here," Rodriguez said. "These undocumented students have nothing to do with the fact that they were brought here. Simply their parents were looking to give them a better future."

The group said it will continue its strike until Alberto is out of the Wake County Jail and until the state starts taking their cause seriously.

The members of the hunger strike are from Winston-Salem, Mount Airy and Yadkinville, among others.

Alberto also has a 2-year-old son.