A group including U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III arrived Tuesday at a small encampment on the National Mall to take the place of activists who have been fasting since Nov. 12 in favor of congressional action on immigration reform.
Service Employees International Union executive Eliseo Medina, Dae Joong Yoon of the National Korean American Services Consortium and Cristian Avila of Mi Familia Vota abandoned the fast on the advice of doctors.
"Immigration reform is something that's been important to my family. My uncle was a champion of it when he was in the Senate," Rep. Kennedy said, referring to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who was actually his great-uncle.
"At this point, we need to get some movement on this bill and whatever we can do to try to break the logjam is important, so I wanted to be a part of it," said the 33-year-old lawmaker, a grandson of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
Since the fast was launched, several politicians, religious leaders and activists have undertaken - just as Kennedy has now done - temporary fasts at different spots around the country.
The hunger strikers have received widespread support from political, religious and union leaders, immigrants and supporters of immigration reform, including President and Mrs. Obama, who visited them last Friday.
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Reps. Luis Gutierrez and Keith Ellison and United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, among others political, religious and union leaders, were on hand on Tuesday when the three strikers ended their fast for medical reasons.
The fasting protesters on Monday sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner asking him to join them.
The hunger strike was begun just one day before Boehner announced that the Republican-controlled House was not going to debate immigration reform before the year's end, a decision that further delays consideration of the bill that the Senate has already approved. EFE