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Vice President Joe Biden Makes Surprise Visit to Fasters

Vice President Joe Biden Makes Surprise Visit to Fasters

VP reiterates support for immigration reform, calls on House to act now; second Republican Rep. David Valadao stops at “Fast for Families”

WASHINGTON, DC – Following Speaker John Boehner’s affirmation yesterday that immigration reform is “absolutely not” dead, Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to the “Fast for Families” tents on the National Mall in support of the immigration reform fasters who are going into their 11th day without food.

Vice President Biden told staff and fasters, “As my father would say, come hell or high water, we’re going to win this.” The strong support for immigration reform was expressed to fasters as Eliseo Medina of SEIU, Cristian Avila of Mi Familia Vota and Dae Joong Yoon of NAKASEC, who have been fasting since Nov. 12, exchanged their testimonies with the vice president. Others who have been fasting in solidarity also heard from Vice President Biden.

Medina, the 67-year old former Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU and a longtime immigration reform advocate, stated, “Vice President Joe Biden’s visit was inspiring. I was humbled and strengthened by his words and commitment to immigration reform. He gives me more hope that we can finally address this moral crisis. Three generations of Medinas—my daughters and granddaughter—fasted with me here at the National Mall. I hope that we won’t need another generation fasting for immigration reform.”

The three core fasters having been abstaining from food and have vowed to continue until they can no longer sustain or they are medically prevented from continuing their efforts.

“On top of what Speaker Boehner said yesterday, we are more so encouraged by the vice president’s visit,” added Dae Joong Yoon, executive director of NAKASEC and a Korean immigrant. “This movement, our fast, is only a small sacrifice we make compared to the suffering endured by the families torn apart due to a dysfunctional immigration system. It’s time we stop this suffering and get immigration reform done.”

“Fast for Families” on the National Mall has welcomed the visits of many members of Congress, including the second Republican to surprise fasters, Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) who came to see fasters after the vice president. The first Republican congressman was Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA).

“As a DREAMer and activist, I am inspired,” said Cristian Avila who began fasting at the launch of “Fast for Families” in Arizona and later joined Medina and Yoon in Washington, DC. “The support of Vice President Biden and many more here and across the country feeds my hunger and gives me the drive to continue fasting for what is the most important cause of my community and my family.”

Every day advocates and faith leaders join fasters in solidarity by abstaining from food for a limited time, from 1 to 7 days.

“As Vice-President Biden understands and reiterated, fixing America’s broken immigration is both a moral imperative and the key to our economic future,” said Rev. Derrick Harkins, Senior Pastor at D.C.’s Nineteenth Street Baptist Church and a participant in the meeting with Vice President Biden. “The question that remains is how much longer Speaker Boehner will choose to inflict needless pain and suffering on aspiring American families.”

For more information or media availability, please contact Beatriz Lopez atbeatriz.lopez@seiu.org or Casey Schoeneberger at cschoeneberger@faithinpubliclife.org.