Sierra Clubbers Help Culminate Fast for Families, Join Call for Immigration Reform
On Thursday Sierra Club staff and DC chapter members braved a frigid afternoon in our nation's Capital to join supporters of immigrant families from the labor, faith and civil rights communities at the breaking of the Fast for Families. Calling on Speaker John Boehner and the House of Representatives to be true to the deepest values of this nation of immigrants, fasters and their supporters predicted Congressional action in the New Year to enact long delayed legislation that includes a path to citizenship.
Supporters of families who have been separated and harmed by our country's outdated immigration policies have been fasting on the National Mall since before Thanksgiving. As Javier Sierra noted in his column earlier this week, the fast has attracted the country's attention, including President Obama, the First Lady, Vice-President Joe Biden and the Democratic leadership in Congress, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
In his column supporting the fasters, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said, "There's no excuse for forcing millions of people to live outside the prevailing currents of our society, where they are frequently exploited and where they often suffer the worst effects of environmental pollution."
At yesterday's event, former SEIU Vice President Eliseo Medina referred to the fast as a wake-up call to the nation about "the moral crisis caused by our broken immigration system." Medina was one of four original fasters who broke their fast on December 3, and passed the baton to others including Sojourners founder Rev. Jim Wallis, Congressman Joe Kennedy III, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.
Echoing the spiritual resistance embodied in earlier fasts by Mahatma Gandhi, who led the struggle for India's freedom from colonialism, and Cesar Chavez, who opened the nation's consciousness to the plight of farmworkers, yesterday's event opened with interfaith prayers in Spanish, English and Korean. At the close, fasters broke their fasts by breaking bread and sharing grape juice in a spiritual communion with participants.
Among the sacred verses quoted was Isaiah 58:6: "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice...to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?"
-- Dean Hubbard, Director of the Sierra Club's Labor Program. Photos by Javier Sierra.