BY GRACE DONNELLY | December 10, 2013
In response to the call for comprehensive immigration reform, many dedicated people have joined the Fast4Families campaign in Washington D.C. and across the country. These individuals are choosing to sacrifice in order to call Congress’ attention need to change the broken immigration system and advocate for families effected by this unjust system. In November many members of the Ignatian family who were participating in the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice were able to visit the faster in Washington and show their support.
Many students, faculty, and staff from Loyola of Chicago, Creighton University, Loyola of New Orleans, Gonzaga University, and Saint Josephs University participated in fasts for immigration reform on their campuses. Last week on Wednesday, December 5 the Regis University Immigration Campaign participated in Fast4Families in support of alum Tania Valenzuela. Tania’s mother, Imelda Valenzuela Gonzalez was facing her deportation hearing and to show support and solidarity members of the Regis University community decided to participate in this fast on the day of her hearing. A reported 30 people participated in the fast at Regis.
Some Regis University students, faculty, and staff that participated in the fast were able to share their reflections about the fast and their reasons for participating. Their reflections are listed below:
Celesté Martinez, Regis University Student
This fast for me encapsulates the power of will of the Immigration Movement throughout 2013. We have protested peacefully, participated in civil disobedience, marches, phone banks to political leaders, and canvassed about reform from door to door. Today I fast for the children who fear deportation of their parents, when they are at school. For the thousands of people currently detained and separated from their families. For the 101 Mothers, numerous Dreamers and Community Activist who have participated in civil disobedience across this nation. Today I fast for my community, especially Imelda Valenzuela Gonzalez facing her deportation hearing. Today I fast because my hunger for justice and immigrant rights is worth the physical sacrifice of my body! Now is the time for Immigration Reform! ACT. FAST.
Melissa Nix, Co-Director of Regis College Center for Service Learning
I am grateful for the opportunity to fast as a way of speaking out against our broken immigration system, a system that continues to separate families, a system that is devised to break the human spirit. Today I fast in the name of the many friends – known and yet unknown – that have been directly affected by this system. I also fast for all of us here in the U.S. and abroad who are indirectly impacted by our broken immigration system. My own family has been separated through deportation and I have directly seen the harm in my family and in my community. Not one more deportation, not in my name.
Kristi Gonsalves-McCabe, Director of Regis University Ministry
I am participating in the Fast4Families because as a mother to four children, I can only imagine the devastating impact that family separation must bring to those affected by it. As a person of faith, I believe that we are all brothers and sisters, and that keeping families apart does more harm than good. I hope that my fasting will in some small way bring a greater awareness to the need for more humane immigration policies.
Byron Plumley, Director of Justice Education of Regis University
I am committed to supporting a humane immigration policy in the United States because it is essential that the US allow people to immigrate with dignity, and guarantee the basic human right of migration. The cause of migration is rooted in international and regional economic policies that support powerful businesses and corporations while laborers struggle to make a living. The polices of NAFTA and CAFTA have undermined just economic conditions and fair wages causing some people to seek opportunities in the US. I am participating in the Fast4Families to raise awareness and call attention to the inhumane laws that tear families apart through the deportation process. My fast is a prayer and action for justice.
Viviana Bracamontes,Regis University Student
The “act. fast.” Fasting4Families national movement has definitely called me to want to act and fast literally for Immigration Reform. We’re at a point where we must turn to other alternatives such as civil disobedience and fasting as a means of spreading awareness about the effects of immigration on undocumented individuals throughout our country. Together we will prove to congress que “Si Se Puede”!
Geoffrey Bateman, Regis University Director of Women & Gender Studies
I’ve committed to fast today for many reasons. On a more global scale, I’m doing it because I believe that every human being, regardless of his or her national origin deserves a life of dignity and opportunity. Given the realities of our global economic system, people immigrate to survive and pursue opportunities, and I don’t believe people should be punished or penalized for this, no matter their status. More locally, I’m participating because of the ways these unjust policies impact members of our community and want to stand in solidarity with them. Lastly, I’m doing it because I support the work and activism of students on these issues.
Fatima Estrada-Rascon, Regis University Student
As a person of privilege in the US I am honored to have the opportunity to fast for those who suffer due to our broken immigration system. I do not live in fear of having my family torn apart by an unjust immigration system. I do not know what it is like to be forced to leave my home in search of opportunity just to be further marginalized. I am privileged to not know what it is like to live in the shadows, but I have seen the devastating effects that this has on our community. And I do know that there needs to be change now!
Lauren Lum, Regis University Student
Today I fasted to recognize the struggle of those who face discrimination, fear, hopelessness and sadness because of their story. I fasted not only to recognize those being deported, the families being torn apart, but also, to understand my own privilege and try to use my status as a leveraging point for action. I wish to see the Immigration Reform Bill be brought back into Congress. I hope that action can be taken because people are hurting, families are suffering and this country is not willing to look the issue in the eye. Therefore, it is time for change and my goal today was to give strength to those who are standing outside the capital, and all over, and say I believe in your struggle and together maybe a difference can be made.
Grace is a senior at John Carroll University, double majoring in Sociology and Peace, Justice, and Human Rights. Throughout here experience at JCU she has been involved in many social justice initiatives. She is part of Students For Social Justice’s fair trade committee and contributed to the campaign to make John Carroll a Fair Trade University. Grace is part of Kappa Delta Sorority and an Arrupe Scholar. She is has participated in immersion experiences to Nicaragua and El Salvador. Grace is from Inverness, IL and graduated from Saint Viator High School.