November 29th, 2013
12:34 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama visits protesters fasting in support of immigration reform

Washington (CNN) – President Obama paid a visit Friday to a group of activists who have been fasting for weeks in the hopes of pressuring Congress to pass new immigration laws.

The President and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, visited the group on the National Mall to lend support for the cause. The "Fast for Families" protesters have given up all sustenance except water during their protest, which they hope will force lawmakers to take up immigration reform measures pending on Capitol Hill.

During his visit, Obama said he appreciated the attention the protesters were bringing to the issue, and that he was optimistic immigration reform could pass.

The President has pushed for an overhaul to the nation's immigration system, most recently during a speech in San Francisco on Monday. He praised the fasting protesters during those remarks, saying the group was "sacrificing themselves in an effort to get Congress to act."

"I want them to know we hear you. We're with you. The whole country hears you," Obama said during his remarks in California.

Other top White House officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, chief of staff Denis McDonough and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett have also dropped in on the group in the last week.

Cecilia Munoz, the director of Obama's domestic policy council, wrote on the White House blog that during her visit, the fasters "described empty stomachs but full hearts as they receive an outpouring of support; to date, more than 3000 people around the country have committed to fasting in solidarity."

Related: Obama said he can't stop deportations of immigrants, but maybe he can

Obama has been pushing for the changes to immigration for the past several months after a bipartisan Senate plan failed to gain traction in the Republican-controlled House. The measure calls for an eventual pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States while ramping up border security measures.

Some Republicans in Congress say the citizenship element amounts to amnesty, and have vowed to oppose it. House Speaker John Boehner has hinted he'll bring up immigration reform measures individually, rather than in a comprehensive bill.

Filed under: Immigration • President Obama
soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. rla

    What a fraud- Think about America and her citizens who are getting screwed FIRST

    November 29, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  2. @RI_Roger

    This is the equivalent of paying ransom for hostages. The President and First lady should be distancing themselves from this tactic and encouraging this group to use alternative peaceful protest methods which puts nobody in peril. If congress was to pass legislation based on this protest, when will it end? Next there will be groups fasting for every social issue imaginable; where do you draw the line?

    I beg this group to end their fast and lobby with other peaceful methods to draw attention and support for their cause.

    November 29, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    @ria, fraud is you, not president, fraud is Bush, Cheney. Fraud is GOP thugs that shut down to lose 34 billion dollars. Idiot. Childish.

    November 29, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. Effel

    I saw no mention of Obama giving regard to the 20 million Americans who have been out of work and fasting for years now. Illegals should be removed and prosecuted from our lands to orotect our people from financial ruin and castration if our laws...It seems the best thing for our country is removing the one thing ruining our USA LAWS,TRADITIONS AND WELLBEING BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE,THE FLESH TAG Obama

    November 29, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  5. F Pierre

    I love how the President is so casual, bringing his wife to talk with these campaigners. He believes there should be some path to US citizenship for immigrants, and some way to keep their families from being torn apart by deportation. Our nation is a nation of immigrants. Unless you are 100% Native American, you are descended from immigrants. Don't begrudge others for wanting the same chance. The proposed legislation does not decriminalize illegal immigration, it just provides a path for longtime "illegals" to file paperwork to become a guest worker. It's not going to wreck the American economy to register folks who are already working in the U.S.

    November 29, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  6. Mark

    I wish these people would just go on a hunger strike to make room for the people they want to let in. Kind of a wash

    November 29, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  7. Name

    Illegal means you broke the law. How can someone say they want to be given citizenship for breaking the law??? They want to start their lives in America by demanding they be rewarded for committing an illegal act!!

    November 29, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. current state of the union

    One piece at a time? You mean, give our no bid contractors 46 billion to secure a border,and then make sure the formula for a path to citizenship is unattainable. In other words, well say whatever you want to hear as long as we get ours first, and can deny you yours, that's the only way they will move on it, just watch and see your disgusting gop at work

    November 29, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  9. Jay

    He should be spending his time fixing another one of his messes-Obamacare.

    November 29, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  10. NameCraig

    It shows his distain for America, He and his wife are the highest profile bigots in this country

    November 29, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  11. Name

    So let them stave! Many people do. Theirs is a political stunt..

    November 29, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  12. ian

    No human is illegal. Immigration reform now. Dont give in to the 20 percent of racist republicans. They are on the wrong side of history snd demographics.

    November 29, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. Y Nichi

    Obamas visited, Biden visited, when is ICE going to visit them ?

    November 29, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  14. Government Waste Rules

    Hooray for a photo op!

    November 29, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. Art

    If we had half of India's population, one third of China's and three quarters of Mexico's and about four fifths of all the third world countries the Democrats would never lose another election and the middle class would learn to stand in the bread lines.

    November 29, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. aaron

    Not sure I agree with them, but the protesters do have some serious conviction of beliefs. It's a bit sad. Congress couldn't care less about 46 million Americans living in poverty unless it's close to election time. In comparison, a handful of protesters starving themselves to death is just a very small dot on the radar for the millionaires we elect to represent everyone in the country. This group won't have the slightest effect on the Congressional conscience, if there were one.

    November 29, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  17. laceys

    They need to realize that the majority of citizens do not want this immigration bill to pass. I am tired of Congress and the President slamming us with stuff that "WE NEED". Let us vote on it and we will see. We can't even provide for the citizens we have now, why should we have to provide for a couple million who entered this county illegally

    November 29, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. roger

    Have we ever had a President with such messed up priorities? Not that I can remember.

    November 29, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. kts0591

    You know I think that we need immigration reform – not anything our president describes as "comprehensive" because if ACA is any indication it has shown the government is not capable of "comprehensive" . But I do have a problem with what these people are doing -I think it's wrong. I don't think their demands should be validated or it could cause a precedent.

    November 29, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  20. Misterwire

    we have so many legal ways people can become citizens in this country but these people are looking for a free ride. There are so many beautiful women for these men to marry, start a family with and then get their papers but they think American women are not good enough for them. The want a free green card so they can bring their own country women here whom they can abuse and get away with. The Republicans must grow some bones this time and reject any free ride to citizenship.

    November 29, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    @RI_Roger: "f congress was to pass legislation based on this protest, when will it end? Next there will be groups fasting for every social issue imaginable; where do you draw the line?"

    Check out the First Amendment, bub. There people are exercising their speech and assembly rights. Democracy is messy – deal with it.

    November 29, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. john

    it looks like they are going to starve to death. good luck with Obama.

    November 29, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. digitalsimulacra

    We made them legal in the 80s, and the government promised real border security and a crackdown in illegal immigration. Flash forward to 2013 and we're preparing to make several times that number legal, with the same worthless promises from the government.

    No. No deal. The illegals want to stay, they can go home and do it the right way. Stop pandering to the criminals and frauds for votes.

    November 29, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  24. are122

    Obama's attention goes to anything but decent jobs and the pathetic economy.

    November 29, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  25. Art

    Yes Virginia, there is Obamacare.

    November 29, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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