Immigration activists decided to protest the stalling of President Obama’s executive order, which would have given deportation relief to millions of undocumented immigrants. It’s a peaceful protest that involves publicly fasting for nine days across the street from 5th U.S. Circuit Court in New Orleans. Protesters are intent on convincing the judges to make a decision as soon as possible, because as more time goes by without a ruling, the less likely it becomes that the case will ever make it to the Supreme Court. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., and President Obama’s plan would give deportation relief to almost 5 million of them, according to the International Business Times.
Alan Gomez, a Nicaraguan immigrant, is one of the protestors participating in the nine-day long fast.
“I have cousins and uncles and friends who are illegal,” Gomez told The Washington Post, “And I am doing this for them and everyone else in that situation.”
When the announcement was first made about a year ago, undocumented immigrants felt a sense of safety they never could under a constant threat of deportation. But over the course of the months following President Obama’s proclamation, 26 states filed legal action on the grounds that the President had no legal authority to issue such a declaration to begin with, amounting to no movement in the immigration reform efforts. His initial executive action came on the heels of more inaction by Congress surrounding any kind of immigration reform. The states that brought the suit against Obama’s actions also insist the financial burden that would be placed on states after the immigrants gained legal status would be unconstitutional.
The three-judge panel presiding over the case at this stage listened to arguments on July 10, 2015, and were expected to deliver a decision sometime in the following 60 days. It’s already been over 100 days with no decision.
Not a first
This isn’t the first time immigrants have used fasting as a form of peaceful protest. In November 2013, advocates of immigration reform staged a 22-day long fast on the National Mall of Washington, D.C., but saw no results from their actions. But despite the failed attempt, immigrant protestors remain optimistic about effort.
“Seeing that anxiousness has been difficult, so I’m fighting for them to have an easier life and to be a role model that they can be proud of,” Mayra Jannet Ramirez, a Mexican immigrant, told ThinkProgress.