This post originally appeared in the Fast for Families blog.
It’s been an incredible first week at the Fast for Families tent on the National Mall in DC. Just steps from the U.S. Capitol, faith, labor and immigrant rights leaders have been fasting around the clock to urge Congress to pass immigration reform. They have inspired Members of Congress, Cabinet officials, and activists from around the country to visit them and join the effort.
The fasters have been encouraged by conversations with Senator Chuck Schumer, Rep. Judy Chu, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Rep. Joe Kennedy III who came to the tent to offer their support. Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack also visited the tent to thank the fasters for their sacrifice.
We were particularly excited to be visited on Friday afternoon by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who came to hear the stories of the fasters and why they are willing to risk their health for this cause. She reiterated that a majority of House members support immigration reform, and that if a vote were held today it would pass.
We’ve also been deeply grateful to receive hundreds of other supporters who have come by to offer their support for the fast and immigration reform.
What have been most moving though are the nightly meetings and prayer vigils. Each night, the community gathers to hear updates on the fasters and pray for their continued strength and for an end to this moral crisis. Rev. William Barber II of the North Carolina NAACP and the Moral Monday movement came to deliver a moving sermon, as did Rev. Derrick Harkins and Rev. Jennifer Butler. Each night we also hear from some of the many activists who have traveled from all over the country to be with us in this effort.
As the fasters finish their 4th day without food, our movement is growing stronger. In the coming days, we will continue to make sure Congress hears our message loud and clear: pass commonsense immigration reform now.
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While House Republican leaders continue dragging their feet and making excuses for blocking a vote for immigration reform, more than 1,000 people are deported every day and millions live in fear that they’ll be next. The time has come for dramatic action to awaken consciences on Capitol Hill.
This week faith and immigrant leaders began the Fast For Families, A Call for Immigration Reform & Citizenship just yards away from the U.S. Capitol on the national Mall. Clergy and activists will abstain from food and pray continually to move the hearts of lawmakers. This is an incredible display of commitment. Some participants will fast for several days, and others are pledging to fast until their bodies can no longer go on.
At the kick off event yesterday, I heard participants invoke not only Scripture, but also Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez – all of whom fasted as part of their historic struggles against oppression. Those who casually dismiss immigration reform’s chances fail to recognize the profound moral stakes we face at this moment. We refuse to let opportunistic politicians stand idly by while immigrant families are shattered.
Tonight I’ll be joining Rev. William Barber II, the leader of the Moral Mondays movement, for a prayer service with the fasters and 60 young immigrant families.
If you’re in DC, please join us at 5:00 PM at the corner of 3rd St and Jefferson Ave, SW. Even if you can’t make it, you can still support this movement by signing up for a one-day solidarity fast, visiting the tents in DC, or simply spreading the word in your community. Visit www.fast4families.org to learn more.
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As the government shutdown continues, the impacts are immediate and unconscionable: cancer patients denied treatment, pregnant women and infants losing critical nutrition supports, and the families of deceased military service members are even being denied benefits. The mounting damage of it all is stunning.
In response, Faith in Public Life released a hard-hitting statement from faith leaders calling for an end to the shutdown and rebuking Members of Congress who claim to be pro-life but have no compunction about taking food away from pregnant women and young children. One hundred Catholic, evangelical and Mainline Protestant leaders — ranging from nationally prominent voices to local clergy from coast to coast — have signed on, and more are doing so every day.
Almost 30,000 Faithful America members have also added their names, and next week they’ll deliver the statement as a petition to the offices of Members of Congress who support the shutdown.
If you’re a faith leader and would like to add your name, you can do so here. If you’re a lay person, you can sign the statement here. The handful of reckless legislators who are behind the current crisis need to hear from all of us.
The March for Citizenship forges on
In a stirring display of commitment and courage yesterday, more than 200 people — including faith leaders and eight Members of Congress — mounted a civil disobedience action on Capitol Hill to call attention to the moral urgency of reforming our unjust immigration system. With civil rights movement leader Rep. John Lewis among those arrested, the echoes of historic struggles for equality were clear.
Earlier in the day, influential clergy leaders held a press at the Capitol directly challenging House leadership on this issue, and in the afternoon tens of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall to tell Congress to get back to work on reform that protects families and builds a path to citizenship. This came on the heels of a National Day of Immigrant Dignity and Respect last Saturday that featured 180 events in 40 states, many of which had religious leaders playing key roles.
In a promising sign that our community’s hard work is paying off, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) – the 4th ranking House Republican – told Univision this weekend that the House will pass immigration reform this year.
Ending the government shutdown, averting the economic catastrophe that will occur if Congress defaults on our nation’s bills, and reforming our immigration system are grave political challenges that share a common solution. House Speaker John Boehner must defy the radicals in his caucus who have forgotten their responsibility to serve the common good and protect American families.
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On Saturday, October 5th, tens of thousands of people took part in more than 180 events in 40 states as part of a National Day for Dignity and Respect, calling on the House of Representatives to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
In Springfield, Ohio, prominent clergy, labor leaders, immigrant families and hundreds of people braved the rain and marched to Speaker John Boehner’s office and told him to get back to work and pass reform that includes a path to citizenship for people who are trapped in the shadows.
“The time for political games and delays is over,” said Rev. Troy Jackson, Director of Ohio Prophetic Voices and one of the organizers of the event. “Immigrant families are torn apart every day while Congress sits on the sidelines. We’re not backing down until Speaker Boehner and Members of Congress heed the faith community’s demand for commonsense immigration reform.”
Rev. Mother Paula Jackson of the Church of Our Savior in Cincinnati said “The Torah, the prophets, and the Gospel all require us to welcome the immigrants who live among us. We are calling on Speaker Boehner to give comprehensive immigration reform a vote: to bring hardworking people out of the shadows, to stop destroying the families of citizen children, and to provide a path to citizenship for people who are contributing to our society.”
Saturday’s national day of action was only the beginning. Today, faith leaders and tens of thousands of people are gathering on Capitol Hill to demand that Congress get back to work on passing immigration reform. Students at Catholic colleges are mobilizing for the cause. Later this month, congregations will drives thousands of phone calls to Congressional offices to make the moral case that the Republican-led House of Representatives must pass reform that protects families and workers and builds a pathway to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.
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Hundreds Rally outside Boehner’s Springfield Office, Urge Congress to Pass Long Overdue Reform
Springfield, OH – Hundreds of people, including immigrant families, faith leaders and labor leaders, marched to Speaker John Boehner’s Springfield office today to call on him to immediately pass immigration reform that includes a roadmap to citizenship. The Springfield event was one of 177 events in 40 states across the country as part of a national day of action to urge Congress to move forward with long-overdue reform.
Sponsored by Ohio Prophetic Voices, PICO National Network’s Campaign for Citizenship, Cincinnati Workers Center, SEIU, UFCW and IUE-CWA, the march featured prominent clergy, labor leaders and diverse people of faith urging Congress to recognize that fixing America’s broken immigration system is crucial for Ohio’s families and economy. Reform will put $4.6 billion in Ohioans’ pockets over ten years.
Faith leaders spoke out at the march about the moral principles at stake in the immigration debate.
“The time for political games and delays is over,” said Rev. Troy Jackson, Director of Ohio Prophetic Voices. “Immigrant families are torn apart every day while Congress sits on the sidelines. We’re not backing down until Speaker Boehner and Members of Congress heed the faith community’s demand for commonsense immigration reform.”
Rev. Mother Paula Jackson of the Church of Our Savior in Cincinnati said, “The Torah, the prophets, and Gospel all require us to welcome the immigrants who live among us. We are calling on Speaker Boehner to give Comprehensive Immigration Reform a vote: to bring hardworking people out of the shadows, to stop destroying the families of citizen children, and to provide a path to citizenship for people who are contributing to our society.”
Labor leaders and immigrants at the march spoke to the devastation caused by our broken system and the benefits of immigration reform that includes a roadmap to citizenship.
Marco Saavedra, a DREAMer and member of the DREAM 9, said, “Every day that Speaker Boehner and House Republicans fail to pass a path to citizenship, a staggering 1,100 families are torn apart by deportations. We can’t stand by and watch this occur any longer. I call on both Congress and the President to treat this like the moral outrage it is – starting with a just and fair end to the detention of the Dream30.”
“We call on Speaker Boehner to take action right now to pass commonsense immigration reform that will grow Ohio’s economy and protect its workers,” said Bill Dudley, Director of Strategic Campaigns at the United Food and Commercial Workers. “Reform that includes a road to citizenship is good for all Ohio workers — immigrant and native-born alike. That’s why labor leaders and the faith community stand together to demand that Congress get back to work on this urgent priority.”
The rally at Boehner’s Springfield office was a part of a National Day for Dignity and Respect targeting House members around the country, demanding that they pass comprehensive immigration reform. Immigrant families and faith and labor leaders will continue to urge the Republican-led House of Representatives to stop obstructing crucial reform and immediately pass a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.
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