“40 Days for Action” pushes for a clean Dream Act and protection for DACA recipients


Jenny Brito

Supporters of a clean Dream Act stand in front of Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s office as part of the “40 Days for Action” protests.

Jenny Brito, Web & Social Media Editor

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients’ future remains unknown. However, that has not stopped Faith in Kern Ministry, a network of churches, from showing Dreamers their support during lent season.

Lent began on Ash Wednesday, and it will last for forty days. For Christians, the season represents repentance and preparation for the coming of Easter. It requires that they focus on self-examination and reflection. This year, members of Faith in Kern Ministry have decided to give lent another meaning.

Members of the Church have been engaging in peaceful protests that are expected to last for forty days, just like lent. They began on Feb. 21 and will continue until March 28. As for the location, rallies have taken place in front of the offices of Congressman David Valadao located on M Street and Kevin McCarthy on Empire Drive in Bakersfield.

Protests are held outside those offices to push local politicians to take action on the matter. The goal of “40 Days for Action,” as the group calls it, is to encourage a clean Dream Act, protect DACA recipients from deportation, and provide a path to citizenship.

Stephanie Smith, Kern Minister and organizer of the “40 Days for Action,” said that the group would be rallying outside local congressional offices until Easter Sunday. She shared that they are determined to continue raising their voices even if they get politicians to speak about the issue.

“If I get a promise on day 22, I’m still going to be here even if I’m standing here alone with my rosary and God,” Smith vowed. Others share her commitment because they have either been affected by recent changes to DACA or know people who live in fear of getting deported.

Nancy Bacon, a pastor at Tehachapi Community Church, said that two of her daughter’s friends were left without their mother due to recent changes in immigration. “A woman who lived and worked in the United States for years only to be taken from them and deported,” Bacon expressed.

Jenny Brito
Supporters of a clean Dream Act stand in front of Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s office as part of the “40 Days for Action” protests.

Bacon added that even members of the congregations and neighbors are now vulnerable to detention and deportation due to their immigration status. Immigrant families, she said, now live frightened and terrorized.

“Some laws are simply unjust. The legality of slavery did not make it right,” she concluded.

Another individual taking part in the demonstrations is Josephina Villarreal, who said she will continue to participate in the rallies to support other mothers who are DACA recipients. Villarreal believes that people need to stick together. “Everyone deserves to be here, and I’m here in solidarity.”

DACA has provided protection from deportation and work permits for young people who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children. President Trump has been trying to eliminate the program, but federal judges ruled that the administration must keep DACA in place while courts evaluate the potential termination of the program.

More recently, Trump’s administration requested that the Supreme Court hear its appeal of the decision. However, on Feb. 26, the Supreme Court announced that it would not do so, and the case remains in the hands of the appeals court.

The move was considered a victory for DACA recipients because it allows for young immigrants to apply or renew their DACA applications.