As he stood by himself Saturday in front of the altar at St. George Catholic Church in Ontario, Vilchis recounted how his family was torn apart.
On a December morning, immigration services arrived to deport Yolanda Garcia - Vilchis' mother.
"I miss her so much," he said. "Today, I struggle because she's gone."
Vilchis was among 300 people who attended the latest stop on the "Family Unity" Immigration Outreach Tour at the Ontario church.
Spearheaded by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., the tour is meant to show the effects of the nation's immigration policy.
Gutierrez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force, urged attendees in Ontario to sign petitions asking for comprehensive immigration reform.
"Sign it for your mom, your dad, your sister," he said. "We're going to meet with President Barack Obama and we're going to hand him those petitions."
Gutierrez said he has already collected 6,000 signatures at stops in a handful of cities. The tour is scheduled to visit 17 cities.
"We will go from city to city, church to church and present the president with no other alternative than to listen to the majority's voice," Gutierrez said.
Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino - who hosted the event - said Saturday's turnout sends a strong message to Obama.
Jennifer and Whitney Serrano
The parents of the teenagers came to the United States about 18 years ago and received legal work permits about two years later. Since then, they have attempted to get their citizenship, said Jennifer, 16.
After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Jennifer said, her parents were denied their work permits. The Bloomington family now lives in fear of being deported.
"Every day I see them go to work and I hope they come back again," Jennifer said as she fought back tears.
Her sister, Whitney, 14, said she is also concerned about her parents, who have never been in trouble with the law.
"I'm very afraid that they will take away my life and all that I cherish," Whitney said.
While attendees listened to testimony inside the church, 10 members of the anti-illegal immigration group the Minutemen Project stood outside waving American flags.
Minutemen spokesman Raymond Herrera said immigration reform would only reward people who have broken the law.
"The American people will not tolerate this type of agenda," Herrera said.
Herrera said present law does not break up the family.
"Separation of family begins in Mexico. They abandon their family prior to living here," he said. "Here in America, we do not believe in separating family at all. They separated their family for money."
Also outside, Earl DeVres of Ontario passed out green cards to people entering the church. The cards read "Wait your turn" and "Don't take cuts."
"The law is the law," DeVres said. "It's not fair for people who have followed the proper process."
Luis Rojas, president of the Ontario Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, watched the situation unfold outside the church.
"This will just unite us," Rojas said. "They forget that we are all immigrants."
As Rojas spoke, Minutemen members chanted, "No amnesty. Deport the illegal aliens," and "Deportation."
Rojas said the scene was disheartening, but he will continue to support comprehensive immigration reform.
The meeting also provided faith-based leaders with an opportunity to put into context the moral issue of deportation laws, Gutierrez said.
"We believe in telling the human side of this issue," said John Andrews, spokesman for the San Bernardino Diocese. "Individual families that have been affected by immigration laws."
Just like other civil movements that were met with resistance, Gutierrez urged attendees to ignore the Minutemen and continue to fight for reform in a peaceful manner.
"The fundamental alliance was their church," Gutierrez said. "We too have a church, one that embraces and that will fight for immigrants."