Pilsen priest begins hunger strike in support of DACA

CHICAGO – A Chicago priest is beginning a hunger strike because he said there has been a lack of action from Congress for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Father Gary Graf, a priest at St. Procopius Parish in Pilsen announced his hunger strike on Sunday.

During Mass, he said that while he can’t change immigration policy, he can do everything in his power to influence the nation’s leaders to “do the right thing.”

He said he will continue the hunger strike until he is sure that lawmakers will assure that no "Dreamer" is separated from their parents.

Back after a long holiday weekend, lawmakers must reach an agreement on a budget plan before the Friday deadline when government funding runs out, but demands from each side of the aisle are impeding progress on negotiations.

For a spending deal, Republicans want to secure a long-term increase in Pentagon funding, while Democrats feel pressure not to agree to such a plan unless it ensures protections for recipients of the expiring DACA program.

Graf joined WGN Morning News Wednesday to speak about his hunger strike in response to the ongoing immigration reform conversation.

“For many many years, this is the way it was done. And we very much encourage people to come in by hook or by crook," Graf said. "Now it would be very disingenuous of us and outright wrong, in my opinion, to certainly condemn the Dreamers, to hold them hostage in this whole conversation.”

Watch his interview in the player above.