Desire for immigration reform prompts hunger strike in Birmingham

A hunger strike has been planned in Birmingham, Alabama, to protest the slow pace at which the United States House of Representatives has been reviewing immigration reform. The strike is set to take place from June 25-June 28 and is being put on by the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice, an organization devoted to providing resources for immigrants and catalyzing change in American policy with regard to immigration.

This June marks the one-year anniversary of a comprehensive immigration reform bill being successfully passed through the U.S. Senate. In the 12 months that have followed since that event, the House of Representatives has yet to put that bill to a vote. A passing vote from the house, of course, would be the next step in passing this legislation into law. Though administrative snags are not exactly a rarity in the American legislative process, a unique issue is presented in this case. As the nation waits for immigration reform to be approved or denied by the House, the Department of Homeland Security is deporting undocumented immigrants at an expedient rate. Specifically, 368,644 immigrants were deported last year, according to the New York Daily News. This number translates to just over 1,000 individuals deported each day. Proponents of immigration reform argue that this practice is harming families who then have no recourse while they wait for the reform bill to pass. One of ACIJ’s organizers, Evelyn Servin, claims this familial turmoil as a main motivation for the hunger strike.

“We’re going on a hunger strike to call attention to the family suffering inflicted by deportations and the lack of immigration reform, and to tell Alabama’s congressional delegation we need a permanent solution now,” Servin said in a statement. The strike comes at a strategic moment: June 28 is the final day that many national immigration reform groups have given to Congress to take some action on the issue.