Across Washington state this week, supporters of immigration reform are taking up a new challenge: no food for 24 hours. The effort is part of national fast that’s underway as Congress debates a sweeping immigration bill.
The rolling fast began in California on May Day and arrived in Washington on Monday. From state to state, the fast works like a relay race where different groups fast for one day at a time then pass the baton to the next shift.
In Washington one of the first shift changes took place at St. Mary’s Church in Seattle where several immigrant workers ended their fast with a light breakfast, as union members and gay rights advocates took their place.
Roy Medina Pode spent the first night of the fast at the church. Pode, an immigrant from Uganda who works as a house cleaner, said she wants Congress to approve a way for all immigrants in the United States to have a chance at citizenship.
“Yeah, I have mine,” Pode said. “I am a citizen but I want to help my group, too. It’s like my family.”
Pode said she’s saddened to see undocumented immigrants face struggles with work, education and family separations. The national fast specifically calls for President Obama to suspend deportations while Congress debates immigration reform.
Marcos Martinez, director the community group Entre Hermanos, joined day two of the Seattle fast. Entre Hermanos provides health services to gay Latinos in the Seattle area. Martinez said public attention is just one goal of the fast.
“Really, the bottom line is it strengthens our personal resolve,” Martinez said. “[For] those of us that are fasting, this action makes us that much more resolved to work that much harder for comprehensive immigration reform.”
The US Senate passed a historic immigration bill last week. It offers the hope of citizenship to millions of unauthorized immigrants and also calls for much stricter security along the US-Mexico border. The legislation now faces tough scrutiny and opposition in the Republican-controlled House.