RALEIGH, N.C. — A Winston-Salem man stopped his 10-day hunger strike on Monday–not because he is stopping his fight for undocumented or illegal immigrants, but because his mother is worried about his health.
Uriel Alberto said he believes he will go another 10 days without eating, and he said he is ready to go longer to get people to see his side of the immigration debate.
“At some point you have to stand up for what’s right. I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” Alberto said.
Alberto, who is facing deportation, was arrested two weeks ago when he disrupted a select committee hearing. His attorneys will file a motion on Tuesday asking a judge to release him on bond.
Whether he gets it or now, it’s likely his last day in Wake County, as he goes before an immigration judge in Charlotte on Thursday. After the hearing, it will be up to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to decide if they want to deport him or let him stay.
Alberto has a message for those who disagree with giving him and other colleagues those freedoms.
“I thought in this country you were innocent until proven guilty,” Alberto said. “I’ve never been convicted of a violent crime. I do have a DUI. I blew a .04 on the side of the road. It was just because I was 20 years of age. I didn’t ask to come here. I didn’t choose to come here but I’m here and I’m trying to make the best of my situation. This is the land of second opportunities.”
“I probably live a better life here undocumented than I ever could have there,” Alberto said. “I’m grateful for being in this country. I love this country. This is my country. I consider myself a Southern boy.”
Ron Woodard with an immigration reform group called NC Listen said he was in the meeting that Alberto disrupted.
“Mr. Alberto disrupted a hearing at the General Assembly, and he furthermore jeers and insults state legislators,” Woodard said. “I think if he isn’t deported for this, he’s making a mockery of our rule of law. He’s basically standing up there, saying ‘I’ve broken the law. There’s nothing you can do about it.’ I don’t think we can say, we’re not going to enforce the law because someone’s going to be in discomfort, because they need to go to the people who broke the law, because they’re the people who caused the discomfort.”
Woodard said he believes Alberto needs to go back to his home country of Mexico and come back to the U.S. in the legal way, as opposed to “cutting the line,” as he put it.