LOS ANGELES (Dec, 3, 2013) — Joining a growing national movement to compel Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform, staff at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice – LA) will be fasting in solidarity with a group of immigrant rights, faith, and labor leaders who embarked on their journey of sacrifice and witness 22 days ago in Washington, D.C.
“Each day that our immigration system remains broken, there are 1,100 more families that are torn apart by deportations,” said Betty Hung, policy director at Advancing Justice – LA, and participant in the solidarity fast. “In solidarity with those, like D.J. Yoon, who have gone without food for 22 days to call attention to this urgent moral crisis, I will fast on December 3 as an act of conscience. We call on Speaker [of the U.S. House of Representatives] Boehner to follow the dictates of conscience and allow a vote on immigration reform that is inclusive and provides a just path to citizenship, while also preserving and strengthening family reunification as the foundation of our immigration system.”
As of Dec. 3, 2013, many Asian Americans and Pacific Islander leaders have committed to join the effort led by the fast participants in Washington, D.C. to heighten the moral dilemma that the House of Representatives perpetuates in its refusal to take action to reform the nation’s broken immigration system. They are also refocusing national attention on the thousands of families that are torn apart every day by the Obama administration’s aggressive enforcement of deportation policies.
Just last week, the reality of immigrant families’ pain was courageously displayed when Ju Hong, an undocumented Korean youth, spoke out to the president of the United States during a speech he gave in San Francisco. Hong reminded the president that families need his help and that he can and should provide administrative relief to them while Congress stalls on providing a humane and inclusive solution.
As a community that is 60 percent immigrant, Asian Americans will be profoundly affected by changes in immigration policy, whether it be reform in detention policies, alleviating the visa backlogs, or providing a pathway to citizenship to 11 million undocumented immigrants, 1.3 million of whom are of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.
Advancing Justice – LA is committed to ensuring that every person in this country is treated with dignity and respect and that the value of keeping families together is upheld. Eight of its staff will be participating in the solidarity fast on December 3 and December 9. By doing so, they – as individuals and as members of Advancing Justice – will be sending a strong message to Congress and the administration that immigrants and families are the backbone of this country, that 1,100 families are daily torn apart, and that millions more families await overseas, many for decades, to reunite with their loved ones.
The that participated in this solidarity fast included:
Dan Ichinose (Project Director, Demographic Research Project); Betty Hung (Policy Director), Joanna Lee (Senior Research Analyst), Karin Wang (Vice President of Programs and Communications), Mark Yoshida (Staff Attorney); Eugene Lee (Project Director, Voting Rights), Laboni Hoq (Litigation Director), Meeran Mahmud (Staff Attorney)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA will continue to advocate for policies that keep families together and provide opportunities for better lives for immigrants and their families, in the belief that these aims are the true purpose of immigration reform. Immigration reform is not about a piece of legislation but about people’s lives.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-4) joined Fast for Families on their National Day to Act, Fast and Pray for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. McCollum fasted throughout the day in solidarity with the immigrant rights leaders on the National Mall who are entering day 22 of their fast.
“It is imperative that the House of Representatives follow the bipartisan lead of the United States Senate and pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation before the end of this year,” McCollum said. “Immigration reform is one of the most pressing issues facing our country today and it has the support of the business community, faith leaders, law enforcement, labor, and families throughout Minnesota. Congress should heed their wisdom and move swiftly towards passing legislation that establishes the immigration system our nation needs.”
McCollum is a supporter of a comprehensive solution to fixing our broken immigration system. She is an original cosponsor of the bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act (H.R. 15), which currently has 190 cosponsors. She serves on the House Appropriations Committee. She is Democratic Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.
National Korean American Service and Education Consortium Executive Director Dae Joong Yoon; Eliseo Medina of the Service Employees International Union and DREAMer and Mi Familia Vota’s Cristian Avila – all abstained from all food since Nov. 12.
“Immigration reform is not about politics or policy, it is about people,” Yoon said. “The human cost of our broken system has created a moral urgency that demands action. Each day more than 1,000 people are deported and families wait to be reunited with their loved ones, sometimes for more than two decades. Congress must take action to keep families together, not break them apart. That is why I have been fasting for the past 21 days.”
“We are inspired by the sacrifice and dedication of the fasters on the National Mall,” said Gregory Cendana, executive director of Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO and a member of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans’ executive committee. “Our community is committed to increasing the pressure on congressional leaders who need to take action now and fix our nation’s broken immigration system.”
“Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial group in the country and support improvements to immigration policies that have continued to keep our families separated,” said NAPAWF Executive Director Miriam Yeung, who along with Cendana, also has taken part in civil disobedience efforts to show support for immigration policy reform. “We are participating in the fast to illustrate that our communities will not be silent when pushing for a common-sense immigration process.”
“How many civil rights, faith and labor advocates have to put their health on the line in order for congressional leaders to pay attention and vote on improving our immigration policies?” asked Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA’s co-director for programs. “By taking part in the fast, we urge our elected leaders to hear our collective call for change and pass humane and inclusive immigration reform now.”
The National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) fasted in solidarity with faith, labor, immigrant rights, and community advocates in a call for commonsense reforms to a broken immigration system. Board members, staff, and allies of National CAPACD will fast for 24 hour periods throughout the week in support of the “Fast for Families” advocates currently fasting on the National Mall.
Joining the “Fast for Families” this week will be: Hyeok Kim, Interim ICDA (Seattle, WA); Michael Byun, Asian Services in Action (Cleveland, OH); Michelle Kauhane, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (Honolulu, HI); Maiko Winkler-Chin, Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (Seattle, WA); Sefa Aina, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (Pomona, CA); Joni Byun, Nakatomi and Associates (Los Angeles, CA); Dean Matsubayashi, Little Tokyo Service Center CDC (Los Angeles, CA); Lua Pritchard, Asian Pacific Cultural Center (Tacoma, WA); Lynette Jung Lee (Oakland, CA); Doua Thor (Washington, DC); and Lisa Hasegawa (Washington, DC).
Among the original fasters is Dae Joong Yoon, Executive Director of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC). While his fast concluded this morning after 22 days, Dae Joong has passed the torch to NAKASEC board member Reverend Eun-sang Lee, who will continue to “Fast for Families” alongside a growing number of advocates and community leaders around the country.
“I want to thank my fellow brothers and sisters in the National CAPACD network for standing with me and raising your voices for immigration reform,” said Yoon, “Our community has demonstrated and upheld a high moral power and family values through fast and prayer. Our movement does not abide by a calendar or deadlines set by Congress. We will continue and each day we become stronger. We have faith that more American sisters and brothers will join us. We’ll make sure our lawmakers listen to the people’s voice and make them accountable in the coming months.”
“Dae Joong has inspired so many of us with his sacrifice over the past 22 days,” noted Lisa Hasegawa, Executive Director of National CAPACD, “I was so honored to represent National CAPACD as I sat with the solidarity fasters this morning. I am inspired by their commitment to continue the fast until Congress passes immigration reform.”
Sign up for the Stand with Families: Time to Act Campaign today to support Asian American and Pacific Islander immigrant families! Please visit www.standwithfamilies.org for more information. For more information on the Fast for Families, please visit the official website.
National CAPACD is a national advocacy organization dedicated to addressing the housing, community and economic development needs of diverse and growing AAPI communities. National CAPACD’s member-based network includes more than 75 community-based organizations and individuals, including community development corporations, preservation agencies, community-based social service providers and advocacy agencies. Our members are in 17 states, implementing innovative affordable housing, social service, community development and community organizing strategies to improve the well-being of low-income AAPIs.