On Dec. 5, I flew to Washington, D.C., to join the Fast for Families, where I fasted for 24 hours in solidarity with the core fasters, who had gone 22 days with no food, just water, spending their days in a tent in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol. These dedicated faith, labor and immigrant rights leaders have shown extreme courage and sacrifice in order to lift up the plight of our broken immigration system.
As Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries for the United Church of Christ, I was humbled to be in this circle of powerful prophets for change on behalf of the UCC. We will continue to make immigration reform a priority issue for 2014 in collaboration with our congregations and members who feel the impact of families separated in record numbers of deportations, now more than 1,100 per day. We have a moral duty and an ethical obligation to stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters to demand just and humane immigration reform now.
Although House Speaker John Boehner continues to refuse to schedule a vote on immigration reform, our fast has made the message abundantly clear: the faith community won’t back down and the immigrant rights movement will only grow stronger until we win genuine reform and stop the separation of families.
As I sat in the Fast for Families tent during our nightly community gathering, I heard the stories of the families who are impacted by these broken policies. I saw determination written on the faces of the fasters and I heard the testimonies of a coalition adding more partners every day. We had a saying there in the tent, "The fasters are getting weaker, but our movement keeps growing stronger."
The power of prayer and fasting has touched my heart and renewed my strength, just as it has done for so many across the country as more than 10,000 people joined the fast on Dec. 3, the National Day of Fasting.
I will continue to pray that the same spirit of unity, love and community might touch Speaker Boehner and congressional leaders to be brave and courageous like these fasters, to do the right thing and bring up a vote on immigration reform that prioritizes family unity with pathway to citizenship.
The Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo is one of the UCC's national officers and Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries.