The push for comprehensive immigration reform is taking place all over the country, from Washington, D.C., to the West Coast. The Central Valley of California, which is home to one of the largest populations of undocumented immigrants in the country, has been an important front in the reform battle.
On Sunday, Dec. 1, Fresno State University, one of that region’s most important cultural hubs, was the site of the latest gathering of immigration reform advocates. Local faith leaders and a group affiliated with the Fast for Families organization, which led a series of hunger strikes across the country in November, came together in Fresno to hold a candlelight vigil promoting the need for immigration reform legislation.
Nationwide hunger strike
The event at Fresno State also marked the culmination of a month-long hunger strike that had been taking place in the Central Valley and in cities throughout the country. Participants were hoping to put pressure on Congress to pass a bill that includes a path to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Faith leaders from across the U.S. have also joined the cause, with many of them engaging in at least partial fasts to show their solidarity with the reform movement. They have combined that effort with a letter-writing campaign where they tell stories of congregation members who live in fear of deportation.
“A lot of congregation members are undocumented citizens or documented citizens who have friends that are undocumented, you just break bread with people every day, work with people and you see the overwhelming need,” Christopher Dreedlove told Fresno ABC affiliate KFSN.
Sunday’s candlelight vigil took place at Fresno State’s Peace Garden, and it included about 100 people who took part in prayers, songs and chants. Organizers and participants all stressed that immigration reform should not be thought of as a political or economic issue, but a moral one.