"We are taking our message to John Boehner that he must put immigration reform to a vote. We want to protect the future of all children who witness their parents being taken away from them, never knowing when they will see them again, this is why we are fasting and launching this tour.
"We say stop playing with our lives, there are people dying in the heat of the desert, 1100 families are separated daily, and it is painful to see the eyes of children as they watch their parent being taken from them.
"I have been at this detention center, and my children are getting close to voting age, if you want them to vote for you, pass an immigration reform bill," Olga Cordero told the crowd of several hundred that had gathered in front of the Los Angeles Detention center early Monday morning at the starting point of the Fast for Families bus tour.
Fasters and supporters marched from the detention center to Los Angeles City hall where two buses were waiting to begin a 3-week-long cross country tour to the offices of more than 75 members of congress to urge the passing of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, ending at the office of John Boehner in Washington D.C. Apr. 9.
Mexican-American labor union activist Eliseo Medina told the crowd that this fast will remind the citizens of this country, that this is not who we are as a nation, we are not in the business of breaking up families, or allowing people to die in the desert heat.
Dae Yoon of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium stated that there are over 4 million families that have been separated, calling this a moral crisis that needs to be corrected.
East Chicago, Indiana, community organizer Rudy Lopez, another core faster, stated that the votes are there to pass immigration reform, John Boehner needs to put it up for a vote and "this is why we are going to Washington DC."
"We will have immigration reform!" said core faster Christian Avila, an organizer for Mi Familia Vota, a program that works to register Latino voters. Avila stated that it was "not a question of whether we will we get immigration reform it is only a question of when. We all have a way to contribute and a voice to make this happen."
"In a democracy congress does not tell us what to do, we tell congress what to do," stated Rev. Samuel Rodriquez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. "We tell you John Boehner: do not think that we will lose hope, we are prepared to fight until we have immigration reform, because what keeps us going are those who have lost their lives in the desert and their families who will never know what happened to them, of the suffering placed on families when members are deported and the faces of children as they watch their parents being arrested and taken away."
Thousands will join the fasters throughout the three-week tour by fasting each Wednesday during the Lenten season. "By fasting, we hope to follow the examples of Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi to touch the compassion and sensibilities of our elected leaders to address the moral crisis of an immigration system that fails to comport with our national values, our creeds and belief in justice."
Religious clergy of many denominations were on hand to bless the Fasters and their journey across the country. Congresswoman Judy Chu was also present and stated her support for a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Two buses left Los Angeles, one heading on a northerly route the other heading on a southerly route.
To help support this effort or join the fast, go to the website http://fast4families.org/. Join fasters when they are in your congressional district and call your member of congress to make sure he or she is ready to vote for the immigration bill. Follow the bus tour on Facebook, and share their progress.
Photo: Rossana Cambron/PW