After 30 days of fasting, immigration activists ended their demonstration on the National Mall Thursday. The fast was one of a series of actions aimed at getting the House to vote on immigration reform.
Several hundred people braved a very cold afternoon and marched from the U.S. Capitol to a tent on the mall, calling for the action that they had hoped would take place this year.
Over the past month, about 100 people — including members of Congress — stopped eating for at least a day. For a handful of activists such as Rudy Lopez of CASA in Action, it was 22 days. Lopez says the fast was "our way of symbolizing the suffering, and joining in that suffering, that’s happening because of our broken system."
Activists got a vote of moral support from dozens of House Democrats who braved the cold to stand with the fasters on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi promised activists that immigration reform wasn't going away. "It's just a matter of time," she told them.
Activists have rallied, delivered hand-written pleas from the children of immigrants, and on Thursday, nearly a thousand moms pushing strollers, teenagers carrying leaflets, and others took over the offices of 200 Republican House members. They held hands in the reception area and prayed until Capitol Police broke up the demonstrations, advising activists to leave or be arrested. As they peacefully left the offices, several chanted "Si se puede" — yes we can.
All the activism and fasting has not produced the desired vote in the House. Lopez, who will eat for the first time in three weeks, says it’s not in vain. "This has lifted up the movement," he says, "and brought a new energy."
That energy is now directed towards 2014. Organizers say their focus is twofold: pressure House Speaker John Boehner for an immigration vote and demand that President Obama stop deportations.