TODOS SON AMERICANOS! Fasting for Human Rights With Fair Trade & No More Raids
Lorna Dee Cervantes
Subject: State News Article
7 in E.L. fast for immigrant rights
By Keiara Tenant
The State News
Published: November 3, 2008
Recent nationwide raids conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to apprehend immigrants illegally working in the U.S. have prompted immigrant rights groups across the nation to take a stand.
On Oct.15, RISE, a nonviolent immigration rights organization based in Los Angeles, began one of the largest hunger strikes in America to encourage people to vote for immigration rights and support those affected by the raids.
More than 100 people are fasting and will continue to fast until at least 1 million people have signed a pledge to vote for immigrant rights.
Kai Newkirk, an organizer of RISE, said thousands of people have pledged thus far.
“We know that when people make personal sacrifices for a cause that’s true and just, it moves many other people to take that seriously and go into action and that’s what we’re seeing,” he said. “Thousands of people have signed it and we know that the pledge is the tool to help take the story and the sacrifices and the power of the fast and channel (it) effectively to mobilize people to get out there and vote.”
On Saturday, seven community members and members of Chicanos y Latinos Unidos, or CLU, committed to a four-day fast.
“I feel really good,” said Gabriela Alcazar nearly two days into the fast. “People don’t realize how much hunger is a psychological thing. … Every once in a while I get the urge to put food in my mouth, but it’s not really hunger.”
The fast, which permits only water, will end at midnight Nov. 5, said Alcazar, finance committee co-chair of CLU.
To help the families affected by the raids, CLU also is asking for $5 donations for each person fasting. The group has raised $150.
“The people who are being taken away from these homes are the main breadwinners in their households,” Alcazar said. “People have to get by, and we’re trying to help the families that are being affected as much as we can.”
Alcazar added she hopes the demonstration will raise more awareness about the way Immigration and Customs Enforcement has performed the raids.
“What we’re fighting for is not whether people are legal or not legal, whether they’re documented or not documented — it’s an issue of human rights,” she said. “People being raided in either their homes or workplaces and they’re doing absolutely nothing wrong, and they’re being treated like worst criminals ever.”
Ruth Verdin, political action co-chair of CLU, added that if more people know about the issues, it would better their chances of ending the raids all together.
Verdin said after speaking with the wife of a man who was recently deported, she fears for her own safety.
“I could see the pain in her face and the fear of not being able to walk around. It’s devastating,” she said. “I don’t feel safe in my own community, and that’s something I just can’t stand.”
Published on Monday, November 3, 2008