Scores of people around the country are fasting – or pledging to fast – for comprehensive immigration reform, which has stalled in Congress.
Though many have set out to fast for 40 days, according to "FAST ACTION For Immigration Reform," some are committing to just a few days or even hours.
In California, fasts are taking place in the districts of Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Kevin McCarthy, one of the highest ranking GOP congressional members. Many of those protesters have pledged to fast for five days.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois, said she would fast on Thursday – for the day – in the spirit of solidarity with activists on the National Mall who began their fast on Nov. 12 and say they will continue for 40 days. The participants, whose action is titled "Fast for Families," are said to have shed roughly 10 lbs. each since they started.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, one of the nation's most prominent Latino religious leaders, was the first to start fasting as part of the national campaign. He has subsisted on just sparkling water and broth.
Rodriguez told Fox News Latino that planned to stay on the fast at least 40 days.
"It's an exercise in prophetic activism," Rodriguez said, "for the purpose of raising the moral conscience, or resurrecting the moral conscience, to pass immigration reform."
Many political and religious leaders have stopped by to see the activists on the National Mall, many of whom are staying in tents.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., several members from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Agriculture Secretary Tom Visack are just some political figures who have visited and expressed support to the activists.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson met with them on Tuesday, as well as feminist activist Gloria Steinem.
The Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill in June that would tighten enforcement and provide a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants.
But efforts to draft legislation have stalled in the House, where conservative Republicans have vowed not to pass any measure that gives undocumented immigrants a chance to legalize. They consider a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants "amnesty," essentially rewarding lawbreakers.
Supporters of such provisions, including some Republicans, say that deporting the nation's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants is impossible as well as not in the interest of the United States, which depends to some extent on such people to do certain jobs.
Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the nation's largest Christian Hispanic organization, representing more than 40,000 churches. He describes himself as politically conservative though not registered or affiliated with any political party.
"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 just before he launched the strike.