Colorado immigration activists join U.S. hunger strike

Arturo Hernandez Garcia, who has sought sanctuary from deportation since November, will be reunited with his family tomorrow — not at their home in Thornton, but in the basement of the First Unitarian Church of Denver. There Garcia and his wife, Ana, will fast for three days, accompanied by activists and immigrants facing deportation across the West and in the District of Columbia.

Jennifer Piper of the Quaker-based social justice organization American Friends Service Committee said that Garcia himself called for the fast in conjunction with his lawyer’s latest efforts to secure Immigration and Customs Enforcement discretion against deportation.

“They felt it was time to do some praying and some fasting to make more visible ICE’s failure to implement discretion not just in their case but in so many thousands,” said Piper.

Last year President Obama announced his immigration executive action designed to extend the protections of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to the upstanding non-citizens of U.S.-born children. He set out clear priorities for ICE leaders, asking them to consider all the factors in a case, good and bad, and limit active deportation proceedings to criminals.

Those new priorities were to be enacted at the beginning of this year, but immigration activists say things have not changed for the better.

“Since January, it’s actually gotten worse,” Piper said. “People who would have gotten discretion before are getting deported.”

ICE did not return request for comment.

Along with Piper, three more members of the sanctuary movement will travel to Washington D.C. to join a national hunger strike before the headquarters of ICE.

Image of a North Carolina hunger strike in 2010 supporting DACA. Photo by Justin Valas