On Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday, advocates offer up prayers for immigrants

JERSEY CITY — On Ash Wednesday morning, these Christians and immigrant advocates received the blessed ashes on their foreheads — signaling the beginning of Lenten journey.

They are lamenting the reported suffering of migrants and refugees especially those undocumented immigrants inside detention facilities.

They send their hearts out to them on Valentine’s day.

“It’s Ash Wednesday, it’s also Valentine’s day which is for Christians is the feast of St. Valentine’s which is all about love,” said organizer Kathy O’Leary. “We’re standing here all these years not because we’re angry, not because we have any kind of hate in our heart for anybody. We’re standing here because we love our neighbors.”

On the other hand, they are also celebrating a second federal judge ruling Tuesday that temporarily blocked President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — an Obama program that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

U.S. District judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn ruled that DACA cannot end in March, as the Trump administration had planned.


“We have a lot of justices who are issuing favorable court rulings, just yesterday there was a judge in NYC that said that the DACA program could not end, so there’s a lot to be hopeful for.”

While it’s a victory for immigrants who sued the federal government – their question is for how long will this ruling stand?


“Everything is momentarily, so we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow so for now, the judge had ruled but, like I said before a lot more could be done, we need an answer for our youth,” says Rosa Santana.

The decision is similar to a Jan. 9 ruling by U.S. District judge William Alsup in San Francisco — that DACA must remain in place while litigation challenging Trump’s decision continues.

The ruling means DACA recipients can renew their status, but the administration is not obliged to hold the program open to new applicants.

Meanwhile, after nearly five years,the Senate began a free-for-all immigration debate that could decide the fate of 700,000 “Dreamers.”


“I’m really happy that they’re talking, I hope that they’re talks are more about how do we include people, as opposed to how do we exclude people,” said O’Leary.

While Dreamers are safe for now, and may not be deported after the March 5 deadline President Trump set – their fate still hangs in the balance as Congress continues to debate on a legislative fix for the entire US immigration system.


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