By: Maria Camila Bernal
After more than three weeks of fasting, immigration activists in Washington D.C. will be joined by many around the nation as they begin the “National Days to Act, Fast and Pray,” three days of no food in hopes that Congress brings an immigration reform bill to a vote.
Three people, Eliseo Medina of Service Employees International Union; Cristian Avila of Mi Familia Vota and Dae Joong Yoon of National Korean American & Education Association, have been fasting near the U.S. Capitol and vowed to fast until they can no longer sustain.
A fourth faster, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, committed to a 40-day fast.
But beginning Sunday, activists hope the fasting goes beyond Washington D.C. in order to “create a moral force that will convince Congress that the time to act is now,” Medina, a veteran of the farmworker rights protests of the 1960s, said.
The group’s goal is to get the attention of House Speaker John Boehner and urge him to call a vote on immigration reform by year’s end.
Ben Monterroso, Mi Familia Vota’s Executive Director, said his organization will have various solidarity events and actions throughout the country on Dec. 1-3. Events have been organized in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Texas.
“We will not stop our efforts until this moral crisis that breaks apart families finally ends and our country has an immigration system that works for citizens, aspiring Americans and their families,” Monterroso said.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited the group fasting in Washington D.C. Friday, reiterating that there is still time this year for the House to pass legislation, The Associated Press reported.
Previous visitors have included Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and feminist Gloria Steinem.
Sunday marks the 20th day of fasting for the group in the National Mall.
“Understanding the struggle that my family and other families in my community face, I have the moral responsibility to do everything in my hands to make a change. If that means my body, my body it is. Anything less would mean I have failed my community, and that is a luxury I don’t have,” said Avila, Mi Familia Vota’s Arizona Coordinator.