Thanks to crotch bombers and death panels, immigration reform hasn't been the topic du jour in the Beltway since Obama took office.
But that could change thanks to an ongoing fast by five activists in Homestead. The protest, which aims to stop all deportations of immigrants with families in America, has picked up momentum thanks to widespread outrage over the January 30 arrest of a Haitian man.
The fast, led by Miami immigration activist Jonathan Fried, began on Jan. 1 because of perceived unwillingness by the Obama administration to address immigration reform. Joined by four other fasters, whom you can read about here, Fried has taken only water for almost a week now.
"Thousands more families were torn apart by deportations last year," Subhash Kateel, one of the fast organizers, tells Riptide. "We thought things would improve under Obama, but they've actually gotten worse. We felt this was our only way to affect change immediately."
Starting yesterday, the protest picked up national attention thanks to the case in New York of a Haitian immigrant named Jean Montrevil.
Montrevil, who is 41, was convicted of selling cocaine when he was 19 and served 10 years in prison. But in the decade since his release, supporters say he became an immigration activist, married an American wife, had four kids and stayed out of trouble.
With no warning, Montrevil was arrested on January 30 d in a detention center in New York pending a deportation hearing.
Dozens attended a rally for the Haitian man yesterday, and Montrevil responded by beginning his own fast in prison and linking his protest to the ongoing effort in Homestead.
The Homestead fasters have sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano including proposed policy changes to deportation proceedings.
"My friends and neighbors shouldn't be collateral damage in a political scheme. Parents and youth ripped from their families is not an acceptable cost," Fried says in a statement on his fast.
"These fasters are prepared to take this all the way," Kateel adds in an interview with Riptide.
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Nicole Navas, the local spokeswoman for ICE, sent this statement about the protest:
"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) respects the rights of individuals to advocate for reform of our nation's immigration laws. ICE will continue to investigate and review cases that meet our priorities and further our mission to protect the United States from immigration violators that are threats to our national security and public safety."
You can read the letter sent to Napolitano here: