On Friday, Nov. 29, President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle lent further credibility to the hunger strikers who are protesting congressional inaction on comprehensive immigration reform. The first couple visited a group of them who have set up shop near the Capitol building.
In his discussion with two of the organizers of the hunger strike – Eliseo Medina and Dae Joong Yoon – the president reiterated his desire to see an immigration reform bill passed. Many of the protesters have gone without food since early or mid-November, and one of the issues the president addressed during his time at their tent encampment was the health of the hunger strikers.
Not if, but when
Most of the president’s remarks were made out of earshot of members of the press, but the White House released a statement outlining most of what he said in his time with the protesters.
“It is not a question of whether immigration reform will pass, but how soon,” the president told the strikers, according to the statement. “The only thing standing in the way is politics, and it is the commitment to change from advocates like these brave fasters that will help pressure the House to finally act.”
Fasts gaining momentum
The president and his wife were the latest in a long line of dignitaries, including Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, to visit the heated tent near the Capitol where the hunger strikers have installed themselves. Known as “Fast for Families,” the group has been raising awareness of the issues facing undocumented immigrants with a hunger strike that has seen many of its members go without any nourishment other than water.
The length of the hunger strike prompted both of the Obamas to inquire into the health of the protesters, with the president suggesting some of them hand over the torch and take a break, one protester told the Los Angeles Times.