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Mary Kay Henry Headshot

Fasting for Commonsense Immigration Reform

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I'm joining the Fast for Families today to renew my faith in who we are as a nation. For the next twenty-four hours, I will join my brother, Eliseo Medina and other religious and civic leaders who have committed to abstain from food for as long as they can to defend the basic human dignity of immigrant families and workers in our communities.

Growing up Catholic, my Mom taught me that our weekly fasting helped renew our faith. The act of fasting combined with prayer remains a powerful lesson about how important being part of a larger community is to my individual well-being.

Today, I draw on that lesson to reflect on the importance of collective action to achieving justice for the "stranger in our midst" and in making the decision to fast for a noble purpose. I am inspired by hundreds of thousands who, over the last few months, have attended countless rallies across the United States and in Washington D.C., refusing to allow the struggle for commonsense immigration reform to become a passing footnote in history.

I dedicate my 24 hour solidarity fast to the immigrant families who have sacrificed to come to the United States seeking better opportunities for their families; to the children consumed with fear their parent may not return home from a day of work; and to the Dreamers who proudly fight for their own citizenship as well as citizenship for their parents -- the original dreamers.

My fast is inspired by the immigrant workers our nation and our economy depend on -- whether they are child care workers, janitors, security guards, airport workers, fast food workers, or adjunct professors -- but who earn far too little and are barely getting by. Their struggle is everyone's struggle. When our nation's political and business systems deny any one group of workers the chance to fully participate in our democracy, all workers lose the chance to stand together as one united voice.

SEIU members are diverse. We are of diverse faiths and racial and ethnic backgrounds. We are citizens, legal residents and, yes, aspiring Americans. We are brown, black, white and every complexion in between. We are migrants from nearly every nation in the world. We are stronger together precisely because of our diverse voices and willingness to take a stand against social and economic injustices.

I am fasting in solidarity to renew my faith and challenge people of conscience to create a better world. And I am not alone. People from many different backgrounds, faiths and beliefs are standing in solidarity with immigrant families of this nation.

When I conclude my 24-hour fast, I will commit to a daily action, and to -- wherever I am -- stand in solidarity as we appeal to the conscience of national leaders to act now to pass Commonsense Immigration Reform. We are stronger together.