Vice President Joe Biden paid a visit to the tents where advocates for immigration reform have been holding a hunger fast, telling them that “come hell or high water,” like his father used to say, “we are going to win.”
Inside the tent, the Vice President sat next to Eliseo Medina, the former Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employes International Union (SEIU), who worked with Cesar Chavez in his youth and who has devoted his efforts to immigration reform since he stepped down from his position at the union.
“I was humbled and strengthened by his words and commitment to immigration reform,” said Medina according to a statement released by the SEIU. “He gives me more hope that we can finally address this moral crisis. Three generations of Medina _ my daughters and granddaughter _ fasted with me here at the National Mall. I hope that we won’t need another generation fasting for immigration reform.”
During the last few days, high profile figures such as civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, Gloria Steinem and members of Congress _ including Republicans such as California congressman Jeff Denham and David Valadao _ have visited the fasters. Illinois Democratic congresswoman Jan Schakowsky fasted on Thursday in solidarity with the group,which apart from Medina includes Cristian Avila of Mi Familia Vota, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Dae Joong Yoon of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium and Lisa Sharon Harper of Sojourners.
Schakowsky’s office has asked other members of Congress to also fast in solidarity with the immigration activists and her office said Reps. Jackie Speier of California, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii joined her. All are Democrats.
“The support of Vice President Biden and many more here and across the country feeds my hunger and gives me the drive to continue fasting for what is the most important cause of my community and my family,” said Mi Familia Vota’s Avila.
As the year comes to a close, those advocating for immigration reform continue pushing for legislation. On Wednesday, young immigrants known as Dreamers, who are not legally in the country, and their families held an early morning candlelight vigil in front of House Speaker John Boehner’s house, with one Dreamer saying Boehner was the only thing that stood in the way of legislation.
Before House members left for their two-week Thanksgiving recess Thursday, immigrant farmworkers and their supporters attempted to deliver turkeys processed by immigrants and wine harvested by immigrant farmworkers to House leaders. They included material about the work immigrants do in harvesting produce, processing meats, cleaning homes and other jobs that they outlined as precursors to Thanksgiving celebrations.
Not all the turkeys were accepted.
On Thursday, Boehner said,“Is immigration reform dead?Absolutely not,” praising Obama for his recent comments that he would accept separate immigration bills from the House instead of a sweeping reform bill like the one passed by the Senate. Both parties have publicly recognized the importance of immigration for Latino voters; the issue is whether another year will go by without any legislation.
On Friday, Maryland Democratic congressman Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip, was scheduled to meet with Latino leaders on an immigration roundtable.