Clark County women fast in support of immigration reform

A group of women in Southern Nevada on Friday morning recounted how their lives have been affected by the country’s immigration system.

Those same women were fasting to support immigration reform.

“We have a broken immigration system,” said naturalized U.S. citizen Ivon Meneses, 39, who has six children with an ex-husband who was deported six years ago. “I don’t want any more kids to suffer like mine, who lost a father.”

Meneses is one of 54 women in Clark County who began to fast for 24 hours Friday in solidarity with about 1,500 women in 35 states, and 100 women from the “We Belong Together” campaign who will fast for 48 hours in Washington, D.C. beginning Monday. Eleven of the 54 women gathered Friday at the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada’s office to make their voices heard as part of the cause.

The group of 100 women urge the nation’s lawmaker to act on comprehensive immigration reform.

The local efforts Friday were coordinated by the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada Action Fund and organizer Astrid Silva, who will receive an Immigrant Youth Achievement Award next week in Washington, D.C. from the American Immigration Council. The award will be presented by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

“There’s no more time to wait,” Silva said. “We need Congress to act.”

Erika Castro, 24, and her mother Lourdes Portillo, 43, decided to fast for the cause.

“I want to raise awareness for those who don’t know I’m undocumented,” said Castro, who was brought to this country when she was 3 years old from Mexico City.

Maria Guadalupe Arriela, 50, said she hasn’t seen her only daughter in 18 years, she hasn’t seen her only sister in 23 years and she wasn’t able to say a final goodbye to her parents before they died in Mexico.

She has been in the country for 25 years and has called Las Vegas home for about 14 years.

Rachel Rekowski, 26, said she’s not affected by immigration laws, but has several friends who are DREAMers, a moniker for unauthorized immigrants under age 31 who entered the United States before age 16; have lived continuously in the country for at least five years; have not been convicted of a significant crime; and are currently in school, graduated from high school, earned a GED, or served in the military.

“I think people forget about the human stories behind immigration reform,” she said.

This kind of events empower the community and those involved, Silva said.

“With inspiration and motivation, people will listen,” she said. “These are the real families that are suffering. They deserve a chance.”

Contact Yesenia Amaro at or 702-383-0440. Find her on Twitter: @YeseniaAmaro.