Clergy and lay members of Episcopal Sacred Resistance, a ministry of the Diocese of Los Angeles, gathered at the federal building in downtown Los Angeles on Dec. 6 with 13 young Dreamers, some of the estimated 800,000 young people who were brought to the United States as children and have grown up, attended school, served in the military and launched careers here in spite of their lack of legal status.

The 13 young people were in the first half-day of a three-day fast, part of the national Dream Act Day of Action. The Rev. Tom Carey, vicar of Church of the Epiphany, Los Angeles, prayed over the young people as they began their fast at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 6. Other Episcopal clergy who visited and demonstrated with the fasting Dreamers included Bishop John H. Taylor; the Rev. Canon Frank Alton, provost of the Cathedral Center; the Rev. Canon Mark Hallahan, rector of St. Paul’s Church, Pomona; the Rev. Canon Joanne Leslie, retired archdeacon; the Rev. Mike Kinman, rector of All Saints Church, Pasadena; the Rev. Francisco Garcia, rector of Holy Faith Church, Inglewood; and the Rev. Nancy Frausto, assistant at St. Luke’s Church, Long Beach, herself a Dreamer.

“I dropped by this evening as the young people shared stories about objects organizers had asked them to bring from home that held special meaning,” wrote Bishop Taylor on Facebook. “A registered nurse, Jessica [talked] about her hospital pass. Her dream is to work on a trauma unit. A young man talked about a stuffed animal from the Museum of Natural History near USC, a gift from his single mother, who worked long hours cleaning people’s houses so he’d have a chance for a better life in the United States. He said he’ll never forget that precious outing with his mom. A young woman from the Philippines, who had lost both her parents by the time she was 13, spoke movingly about being raised in the U.S. by her two uncles. Another told me she was fasting because she doesn’t want to be forcibly separated from her family.”

The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), first proposed in the U.S. Senate in 2001, has been re-proposed in various forms several times, but was never enacted into law. It would allow young immigrants under certain conditions to register and live legally in the United States for defined, renewable periods of time. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, launched by the Obama administration, allowed such deferrals; the Trump administration has announced that it will cancel the program in 2018. The Los Angeles demonstrators called on Congress to pass a “clean” Dream Act to allow the young immigrants, most of whom grew up in the United States, to have legal residence and possibly citizenship.