Fasters for immigration reform meet with the Obamas
Stephon Johnson | 12/5/2013, 4:48 p.m.
Sacrificing nourishment in favor of justice, participants of the “Fast for Families” campaign continued their demonstrations stressing the moral impact of the House of Representatives’ inaction on immigration reform.
Their actions granted them a meeting with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
The Obamas met with fasters Eliseo Medina of the Service Employees International Union; Lisa Sharon Harper of Sojourners, a Christian-based ministry focused on social justice; Cristian Avila of Mi Familia Vota, an organization that works to empower Latino and immigrant communities; and Dae Joong Yoon of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium.
Inside the Fast for Families tent, the first family spoke with the fasters on Friday about how the group’s actions have made national headlines and how they were concerned about the health of the fasters. The president also told fasters that he believes House Speaker John Boehner is sincere in wanting to get immigration reform done.
Medina, who has engaged in a water-only fast for three weeks, expressed joy that their actions had reached the ear of the White House.
“The president and first lady’s visit has reignited our spirits,” said Medina in an emailed statement. “Their encouraging words reconfirm their commitment to immigration reform and the countless aspiring Americans who seek to come out of the shadows of fear and repression.
“We appreciate the president’s words and concern over our health,” Medina continued. “We connected on a human level, discussing the moral crisis impacting our country and our immigrant communities. We are moved by their visit and hope to continue efforts in making immigration reform and citizenship a reality.”
Medina, Yoon and Avila have been on a water-only fast for 21 days, while Harper has abstained from all food except juice. Other advocates and organizations, such as the National Education Association, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, the Center for Community Change, the NCAPA Asian American and Pacific Islander Immigration Table and others have participated in the “National Days to Act, Fast and Pray” as well.