Activists Plan Wednesday Rally to Press for Immigration Overhaul

Laura Meckler

A rally on the National Mall is planned for Wednesday as activists continue to press Congress to act on stalled immigration legislation.
A bus tour called “Fast for Families” is completing its seven-week journey through more than 80 congressional districts. Its leaders will join a group of about 100 women who are fasting for two days, also demanding congressional action.
The immigration rights activism stems from a 22-day fast last November and December, led by Eliseo Medina of the Service Employees International Union. He then led the bus tour, which is making its way to Washington, and said Tuesday that he believes visits to members of Congress and their staff are making a difference.
“For the first time ever, a huge number of primarily Republican members of Congress have had to engage in a conversation on the issue,” he said. “We got them thinking.”
Immigration legislation encompasses a variety of issues. Activists are focused on winning legal status and a path to citizenship for nearly 12 million people in the U.S. illegally.
House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) has said he would like the House to take up immigration changes, but he has yet to bring any legislation to the floor. Many House Republicans have signaled that they could support legal status and even the chance for citizenship, but there is reluctance to take a divisive issue up in an election year.
Midterm congressional elections are this fall.
Mr. Medina’s group fasted for another four days last week in the district of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.). The group also visited Fort Smith, Ark.; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; and Greenville, S.C.
“These are not what you would call the center of the immigrant rights movement,” Mr. Medina said.
Several Democrats in Congress were visiting the two-day women’s fast on the Mall, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.).