The pressure on the House of Representatives from faith communities is increasing as Congress returns from August recess. Today marked the beginning of a 40 day action for immigration reform by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition in an attempt to show the importance of reform and to remind House members that the time is now. This 40 day action is calling for the community to engage in 40 days of praying, fasting, and acting.
Al Samuels, who is a member of the Shepherd Park Christian Church, arrived in the U.S. at the age of 12, has been married for 12 years, and has 3 children. The former U.S. Marine was detained last year for a period of five months. On a press call today, he said that “every day was a struggle” during which he worried about his family and how they were doing. He also initially had difficulties with the men he was detained with, fighting over simple things like the use of the phone–until they came together with prayer and fasting.
Samuels said “that the differences that we overcame in detention are no different than that of our American society, or the divisions in American politics. I am living proof that when people of faith come together – and pray and fast in solidarity – that circumstances can change even when the odds are against you.” Samuels joined in the 40 days of praying, fasting, and action in hopes of changing the broken immigration system.
Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, emphasized that the time is now for immigration reform. She told of her encounter with a 19-year-old who is now the sole caretaker of her two 11-year old siblings because her parents were deported and said that “that’s not who we are as a nation.” Sister Simone was also a part of “The Nuns on the Bus” tour for immigration and said that the community must come together to speak out and push for immigration reform.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (R-AZ) was also on the call, and said that the system we have now is a “broken system that divides families and marginalizes people.” The purpose of this planned fast is to bring people together and mobilize them to fight for just legislation that replaces our current immigration system. Congressman Grijalva said that “these next 40 days of prayer, reflection, advocacy and fasting are going to be very, very critical in moving this Congress of ours, and moving the conscience of this nation.” He added that immigration reform “is the most pressing domestic issue that we have.” More than 5,800 people from 45 states have committed to this 40 day action of fasting, praying, and advocating. To commit go to http://fastaction.us/