Mother of three Dreamers holds fast on Hill for passage of DREAM Act

Daniel Galan and Antonia Alvarez advocate for the passage of the DREAM Act near the U.S. Capitol building in Washington Dec. 5. They were fasting and praying for 10 days to draw attention to the immigration issue. -CNS photo | Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard

By Kelly Sankowski Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Antonia Alvarez, the mother of three DACA recipients and one U.S. States citizen, began a 10-day fast Dec. 4 outside of the Capitol in Washington to advocate for the passage of the DREAM Act.

The measure would allow her children and 800,000 other Dreamers to remain in the country and gain a path to citizenship.

Alvarez is originally from Mexico City and said she immigrated to the United States 16 years ago because of dangerous conditions in Mexico. She currently lives in New Brighton, Minnesota, where she has done similar fasts throughout the past few years.

But after President Donald Trump announced in September that he would end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, there was added urgency to Alvarez’s advocacy.

To get the attention of members of Congress, she decided she would need to travel to hold a fast right in front of their offices. In ending DACA, Trump called on Congress to come up with a legislative solution to keep the program by March.

Many are calling for passage of the proposed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, to do just that.

Alvarez, a parishioner of Incarnation Sagrado Corazon in Minneapolis, traveled to Washington with a group of leaders from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to speak with congressional leaders, then stayed behind to carry out the fast.

She said she planned to fast until passage of the DREAM Act or when Congress is scheduled to recess for the holidays Dec. 15.

Every day from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., she planned to sit in a section of the Capitol grounds directly between the House office buildings and the Capitol, urging lawmakers take action on the bill.

“Sometimes I said, ‘God, I stay alone,'” she said, expressing fear about doing this by herself. “But I listen, (and hear) ‘You’re not alone.'”

Now she really isn’t alone. Daniel Galan, a 25-year-old electrician from Chicago, who saw on Facebook what Alvarez was doing and decided to hop on a bus from Illinois to join her.

Galan, a parishioner of St. Paul Catholic Church on Chicago’s South Side, was brought to the United States from Mexico City at age 8. He and his girlfriend are both DACA recipients, so he said he was doing the fast for the both of them, as well as for many other Dreamers he knows who couldn’t make the trip to Washington.