November 12, 2013

CWS, Immigrants’ Rights Groups Launch 'Fast for Families' at Capitol’s Doorstep

Photo: David Sachs/SEIU

WASHINGTON, DC – As communities across the country continue to escalate their campaign for genuine immigration reform and pressure leadership in the House of Representatives, faith, immigrant rights and labor leaders announced today the launch of “Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship.”

Leaders committed to a daily fast in front of the U.S. Capitol and at locations across the country to send a clear and visible message to Congress about the moral crisis caused by our country’s broken immigration system and its impact on millions of families.

“With close to 2 million deportations in the past five years, our families cannot wait one more day for immigration reform,” said the Rev. Noel Andersen, the CWS Grassroots Coordinator for Immigrants’ Rights, who has been a key organizer in the Fast for Families. “Too many families are suffering from the pain of being separated from their loved ones. Millions live in daily fear that their mom, dad, sister or brother could be detained or deported. We are at a point where we have to escalate our efforts, expose the injustice, and engage the heart of our country.”

The timing of this fast is critical as the leadership in the House of Representatives continues to stall progress on immigration reform. Fasters will be abstaining from all food, except to drink water. A group of four initial fasters from the faith, labor and immigrant rights communities will continue to fast until medical professionals advise them to stop, while many more leaders will commit to fast in solidarity for periods of two or three days.

At the launch of the fast, Eliseo Medina, former Secretary Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, said, “For me, this fast is to renew my commitment to the cause of immigrant justice. Doing without food will not be easy, and I know that I will suffer physical hunger. But there is a deeper hunger within us. A hunger for an end to a system that creates such misery among those that come here to escape poverty and violence in search of the American dream, yet too often find death or mistreatment. That is why I fast; not out of anger or despair but out of faith, hope, and love.”

The fast in Washington, DC, will be held in conjunction with dozens of local and solidarity fasts, events and actions already underway in key congressional districts across the country. Fasters will be joined nationwide by groups and faith activists who are prepared to make sacrifices for the passage of immigration reform with a path to citizenship. In addition, several CWS member denominations are helping to organize evening prayer vigils.

Chair of the CWS Board of Directors, the Rev. Dr. Earl Trent, who will bring members from Florida Avenue Baptist Church to lead a prayer service, said “the moral crisis that our broken immigration system has brought upon our country must be addressed urgently. The Fast for Families’ message to Congress is clear: Vote for immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship that protects family unity. We will continue to push forward until we see real change for our immigrant and refugee communities.”

The Fast for Families builds upon the commitment of more than 10,000 people of faith who committed to pray and fast for 40 days during October and November as part of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s Fast Action for Immigration Reform.