Congresswoman joins fast for immigration reform, urges colleagues to do the same

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by Brian Washington

An Illinois Democratic congresswoman is joining a fast started several days ago by a group of religious, civil rights and labor activists on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to bring attention to the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

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Representative Jan Schakowsky plans to fast today in a show of solidarity with the activists, who began their fast on November 12. It’s called the “Fast for Families” and the activists have each lost 10 pounds already, vowing to continue until they are no longer physically able. The goal is to bring attention to how the current, broken immigration system is tearing families apart. More than 2 million DREAMer students are at risk of being of being separated from their families.

“Some 500 feet from our offices, these fasters are putting their health on the line to emphasize that comprehensive immigration reform cannot wait, and that the House must act,” Schakowsky wrote in a letter to her colleagues in the House. “I join them in calling on the Republican House leadership to stop delaying and call a vote on comprehensive immigration reform, and I ask you to join me in fasting for one day in solidarity with these courageous leaders.”

Schakowsky says she gets her motivation from the activists, who have received visits from Democratic and Republican elected officials, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

I’m so inspired by the fasters,” Schakowsky told a Capitol Hill reporter, “and…how they’re willing to put their bodies on the lines, their health on the line to raise attention to an issue that is really tearing at the fabric of our country

However, Schakowsky is not the only one inspired by the activists. People across the country have signed up to join the protest via Fast for Families, which also allows you to get information about upcoming events around the nation in support of immigration reform.

And at the National Education Association (NEA), which represents more than 3 million educators nationwide and supports an up-or-down vote on immigration reform, employees will be engaging in day-long fasts right up to Thanksgiving.

DREAMers and other immigration reform advocates have launched a nationwide push to get the House, particularly House Speaker John Boehner, to schedule an up-or-down vote. Yesterday, 11 DREAMers and their allies, were arrested for engaging in civil disobedience outside Boehner’s  office.

Please join the campaign to get comprehensive immigration reform approved in Congress. Call 1.866.632.6057 and urge your representative to support an up-or-down vote on an immigration bill with a path to citizenship for our students and their families. And if you would like to show your solidarity by fasting, visit Fast for Families.

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