News Detail
Francisco Diaz, a 41-year-old carpenter from Miami, biked over 1,000 miles to raise awareness for immigration reform.
Pedaling for Dreams: Activist Bikes to Washington, D.C., for Immigration Reform

May 16, 2014 — Francisco Diaz, a 41-year-old carpenter, recently biked over 1,000 miles from his Miami home to Washington, D.C., to deliver one small item to President Obama: a pen. Diaz completed the ride last month to promote “Pedaling for 20 Million Dreams,” his campaign to raise awareness of the need for immigration reform. 

Diaz’s hope was to deliver the pen to President Obama so he could sign an Executive Order placing a moratorium on deportations. “In my hand, a pen doesn’t have much power, but in the hand of the president it could change so many things for so many people and families,” Diaz said. According to Diaz, the 20 million referenced in the title of his campaign represent the 11 million people deported each year, along with their family and friends.

Diaz, who is originally from Mexico City, has experienced the effects of the current immigration system firsthand. When his brother-in-law was deported two years ago, it had a devastating impact on Diaz’s seven-year-old niece Emily, a star student. “The teachers began to realize that something had happened as her grades started to fall,” Diaz said. Emily’s three-year-old sister Fernanda also began having nightmares and couldn’t understand why her father had left. Propelled by his family’s own suffering and the experiences of others he met along the way, Diaz embarked on his bike-riding journey.

He was met with the hospitality of many faith communities and well-wishers at his stops between Miami and D.C., including the Jesuit parish of St. Raphael the Archangel in North Carolina. At Sacred Heart Church in Richmond, Va., another Jesuit parish, Diaz met Jesuit Father Jack Podsiadlo, who was participating in the Fast for Families event for comprehensive immigration reform. When Diaz mentioned that he needed help articulating his experiences and his plea to the White House for action on deportations, Fr. Podsiadlo encouraged him, “You don’t need anything, because all you need is already within you — it’s already in your head.”

Diaz said he felt the Spirit move within him during his 5:30 a.m. daily prayer the following morning, helping him compose his letter to President Obama, which read in part:

“I have faith and hope that soon the cries of an immigrant people that suffers will end.
I have faith and hope that no more fathers will be separated from their families.
I have faith and hope that no more mothers will be separated from their sons.
I have faith and hope that the most sacred aspect of a society, the family bond, will remain united.
I have faith and hope that the American Dream will return to being the American Dream.”

While Diaz was unable to deliver his pen to the president, he continues to look for ways to support the people he met on his journey and advocate for the rights and dignity of those affected by current U.S. immigration policy.

Recent News

October 8, 2015 — Each fall, Jesuit schools mark the new school year with the Mass of the Holy Spirit, a tradition that began at the first Jesuit school in Sicily in 1548.

October 5, 2015 — Echoing Pope Francis’ call to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis, the Society of Jesus is urging elected officials to admit more Syrian refugees to Canada and the U.S.

October 2, 2015 — All 28 Jesuit institutions are listed near the top of their category among America’s “Best Colleges” in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report rankings.

September 30, 2015 — The mission of the Jesuit Refugee Service has been to "be near the least and the abandoned," as Pope Francis has urged, for the past 35 years.

September 29, 2015 — Pope Francis concluded his trip to the U.S. Sept. 27 in Philadelphia, where he attended the World Meeting of Families and made a stop at Saint Joseph’s University.

September 28, 2015 — Pope Francis has named Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno as the new director of the Vatican Observatory. Br. Consolmagno is a planetary scientist who has been an astronomer with the Vatican Observatory since 1993.

September 25, 2015 — During his visit to New York City, Pope Francis addressed the U.N. and attended a prayer service at the 9/11 Memorial.

view all news

Search news

Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

America - 10/12/15

America - 10/05/15

America - 9/28/15

Loyola Retreat House
Situated on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River, Loyola Retreat House is located 35 miles south of Washington, D.C., in southern Maryland.