Zoe Lofgren goes hungry for immigration reform

Rep. Zoe Lofgren started fasting Wednesday for one day in sympathy with the “Fast 4 Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship.”

Lofgren, D-San Jose, cast her lot with a group of immigration reform advocates who’ve been fasting for more than 30 days on the National Mall in front of the U.S. Capitol in order to urge House Republicans to act. It’s part of a relay of sorts: Lofgren took up the fast from Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, and it’s unclear who’ll pick it up from Lofgren on Thursday.

“I’m humbled to join in fasting with these courageous people to demonstrate my shared commitment for comprehensive reform,” Lofgren said. “From left to right, a majority of Americans want to fix our broken immigration system because it does not reflect our values, it tears families apart and forces people to live in the shadows, and it holds our economy and country back. The American people are tired of excuses about why Congress cannot pass reform and I challenge my Republican friends in the House to set aside politics and join us in passing meaningful immigration reform.”

Lofgren is the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, and for the past four years has worked with seven other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to craft an immigration reform bill. Republicans pulled out of those talks in September, scuttling the effort.

UPDATE @ 11:20 A.M. THURSDAY: Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, started his 24-hour fast yesterday too, and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, starts his today. “My colleagues and I are joining this fast because we all know the system can – and must – be fixed,” Miller said. “Americans want and deserve an improved immigration system that reflects our values and Congress needs to deliver on that promise now.”


Barbara Lee urges Congress to fast for Darfur

Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health held a Capitol Hill news conference today urging all of Congress and others to join the “Darfur Fast for Life” campaign by fasting in solidarity with Darfur residents suffering at the hands of the Sudanese government.

“Almost 15 years ago in Rwanda, the international community turned a blind eye while a million civilians were hacked to death,” Lee said in a statement issued afterward. “Can we really say we have done any different in the case of Darfur, South Sudan, Abyei, and Nuba? We declared genocide in 2004, but we failed to act decisively to stop it. If we had acted then, we could have saved many innocent people. If we do the right thing now, we can save children from a certain death and end the suffering for millions.”

The campaign (though obviously not each individual’s own fast) will continue until Congress adjourns in August. Payne began a four-day, water-only fast May 10. Among those who’ve also fasted are Virgin Group founder and chairman Sir Richard Branson and actress Mia Farrow, the latter of whom was at Tuesday’s news conference.

Lee spokesman Ricci Graham said she’s starting her fast today, for a length yet to be determined.