Community gathers on Tyler square to fast, pray for immigration reform

Published on Thursday, 13 February 2014 22:50 - Written by Rebecca Hoeffner rhoeffner@tylerpaper.com

East Texas residents and ministry and community leaders gathered on the square Thursday to fast and pray for immigration reform.

“The public is with us,” said Roberto De La Cruz, a coordinator with the national Fast for Families bus tour set to roll out later this month. “It’s politicians that are lagging behind.”

East Texas’ Hispanic church members committed to fast for 24 hours, and several attended the noon event Thursday.

A November poll from the Public Religion Research Institute shows 60 percent of Republicans, 57 percent of Independents and 73 percent of Democrats favor a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally.

The Fast for Families tour was invited to the event by the Hispanic Evangelical Ministerial Alliance of East Texas.

“Fast for Families” launched last November in Washington, D.C., with partners from the faith, immigrant, labor and civil rights communities across the nation.

Cristian Avila — a DREAMer and Mi Familia Vota advocate — fasted last November for 22 days in the nation’s capital to underscore the moral crisis and suffering caused by the country’s broken immigration system.

“It was difficult, but it was a good sacrifice,” the 23-year-old Arizona native said. “It’s more difficult for families who are separated and who hunger for justice.”

Last year, more than 400 people died crossing the border, and 1,100 families are separated every day because of deportation issues, Cruz said. For more information, visitwww.fast4families.org .

“This is an important issue for the Spanish community,” said Tyler resident Carlos Flores, 44. “This is the best country in the world, and we can do better. We are a country of immigrants. We are not criminals, we are workers. We want to make this country more powerful.”