One of the nation’s most prominent Latino religious leaders is planning to go on a 40-day hunger strike on Monday to press Congress to act on immigration reform.
Samuel Rodriguez, who is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), the nation's largest Christian Hispanic organization, representing more than 40,000 churches, said he would consider extending the hunger strike beyond 40 days.
"In the spirit of Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and other leaders who have acted on the moral imperative to do justice, as well as our ultimate example found in Jesus, I likewise sense an urgent conviction to engage in the spiritual exercise that in my faith narrative produces great results," said Rodriguez in a press release announcing the hunger strike. "Starting today, I will be engaging in a personal fast and call others to join me as we pray for the vital importance of immigration reform now."
Earlier this year, Rodriguez, a conservative leader who gave the benediction at last year's Republican National Convention, was among about a dozen faith leaders who were invited to the White House to discuss comprehensive immigration reform with President Obama.
Rodriguez has framed the immigration issue as a religious and moral one. He has pushed his fellow evangelical pastors to advocate for an overhaul of immigration policies that would tighten border security, expand guest worker visas, and provide a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants, estimated at about 11 million.
Rodriguez said he hopes others who support similar comprehensive immigration reform goals to join him in the fast.
"Our role is not necessarily to speak to the Nancy Pelosi's of the world," Rodriguez said to ABC/Univision earlier this year. "Our role is to speak to the other side, to folks who have opposed comprehensive immigration reform...The Republican Party and the conservative movement must cross the Jordan of immigration reform to enter into the promised land of the Hispanic vote."