Why I am Fasting
This week I began a fast for immigration reform. I am joining in solidarity the Fast4Families, an effort led by national immigrant, labor, and faith leaders who will be fasting together on Capitol Hill in a moving effort to appeal to those in Congress who continue to block reform with a pathway to citizenship.
Our fast comes at a time when House Republicans are seemingly rattled by the power of our movement. Some Republicans, like Reps. Jeff Denham, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and David Valadao have demonstrated real courage by supporting H.R. 15, the bipartisan bill which will provide an earned pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million people living in the U.S. without papers. Others like House Speaker John Boehner - and especially Rep. Michael Grimm here in New York City - claim to support reform but have only offered up excuses for why they aren’t getting it done. To these Republicans I ask, “How do you live with the consequences of your inaction? That with each day you fail to govern, another 1,100 immigrants will be deported”?
I am fasting to convey the crisis going on in immigrant communities to those Republicans in Congress who are blocking reform, and also to show my deepest support for the family members, day laborers, domestic workers, and students who live in constant fear of deportation while struggling to provide for their families. I am fasting for Sara, Max, Ravi, Hina, Angie, Emily, and countless others whose lives have been disrupted or put on hold because of our nation’s dysfunctional immigration laws. I am fasting for the mothers who have been separated from their children, whose suffering weighs on my heart with a painful heaviness, but also remind me that we must never give up, we must never accept defeat, we must never give in to those who wish to stand in the way of progress.
We in the immigrant rights movement have held massive rallies drawing tens of thousands of people, launched daily vigils outside the offices of Republican Congress members, organized phone banks, and perhaps most importantly, registered new immigrant voters. But our window to pass reform this year is quickly closing, with House Leadership claiming there is not enough time to pass a bill this year. If not now, when? How many more people must suffer before we reform our immigration laws? How many more families must be separated? Now is the time for real immigration reform – not next month, not next year.
The time is now.
Immigration Advocacy Director, The New York Immigration Coalition