Mountain View Voice

News - May 17, 2013

National "rolling fast" for immigration reform starts in MV

by Daniel DeBolt

The first in a series of such actions nationwide, advocates for immigrant rights in Mountain View made their point this month by going without food and speaking to church congregations up and down the Peninsula.

Leading the effort was Maria Marroquin, director of Mountain View's day worker center, one of 10 Mountain View residents who went without eating over an 11-day period to bring attention to the 11 million immigrants who still do not have a legal status in the United States.

Marroquin estimates that the group was able to reach over 2,000 people between May 1 and May 12 while stopping overnight in churches of various faiths from Los Altos to East Palo Alto and Foster City.

Speaking on March 14, she said the fast was "difficult" but "we touched many many people, we learned about the way that they worship."

"It was an incredible incredible experience pretty much all the pastors fasted with us," she said.

Following prayers on May 8 at St. Anthanasius church, the group spoke to church members about their experience and what Marroquin called, "our humble request to spread the word and stop the deportations," which now occur at a rate of more than 1,100 a day nationwide.

The fast was a "deeply spiritual" experience, Marroquin said.

"What I admire about Maria and others" is their inclination to "not just appeal to a sense of justice but what our faith calls us to," said St. Anthanasius church member Phillip Cosby, speaking to the crowd on May 8. "You have not given up hope."

Crosby said he became an American 67 years ago when he was born in Washington, D.C.

Marroquin drank only juice and water to sustain herself over the 11 days. "The purpose of this is not to get sick or die," she said.

As immigration reforms are being debated in Congress, the campaign calls for President Obama to stop all deportations and for Congress to pass "comprehensive" immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. while protecting workers' rights and civil rights and to reject militarization of the border.

Despite having not eaten for eight days, Marroquin had a glowing smile on her face throughout the evening of May 8, while translating for the audience. Several undocumented immigrants talked about struggling with the fear that they could be deported at any time, wondering if they should answer the door when someone knocks.

"Through these trainings, I learned not to be afraid anymore," said Leticia Rios before a workshop on immigration rights advocacy held at the church. "Enough is enough. God is our best judge, and he is on our side."

While the church visit had a relaxed tone, Marroquin's message was more fiery in a video posted on the National Day Labor Organizing Network website.

"Definitely the message to the president is that he use his power and do the right thing and that he stops the deportations," Marroquin said in the video. "(The president's daughters are) no different than our own. He must love them the same way we love each one of our own children. Every day that passes, and every 1,100 families that are separated every day, that he think about what is happening when he puts his daughters to bed every night. I say that with respect and also with all the strength and the urgency that demands immediate action."

Marco Antonio Cedillo, a day laborer who said he found community at the Mountain View's Day Worker Center, explained his motivation to fast with Marroquin in a youtube video. "I understood that only by doing this we could reach the hearts of the people, the people from the communities, the people who have the power, and the people that co-exist with us on a daily basis," he said. "I reasoned and I thought, 'If I don't become part of this movement, now that I have the opportunity to do so, I will lose this valuable opportunity to prove to myself that I am part of the human race.'"

Marroquin took her first bite of food after the fast ended on Mother's Day, fed to her by her son. "That was really moving for me," she said. "Usually mothers feed their kids. It was really hard for me to contain the tears."

With some help from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the "rolling fast" action is set to continue in Florida, New Jersey, Portland, Ore. and Boston. For more information, see the "take action" page at notonemoredeportation.com.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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