Eliseo Medina speaks as demonstrators with the "Fast for Families Across America" tour arrive at the MLK Jr. Historic Site in Atlanta Wednesday, March 26, 2014. The group drew national attention last year for fasting on the National Mall in support of a congressional overhaul of the immigration system. Now they've brought their campaign to Atlanta. Among the activists is Eliseo Medina, a former international secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union. KENT D. JOHNSON / KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM
Photo: Kent D. Johnson
Photo: Kent D. Johnson

Activists in Atlanta call for immigration overhaul

Activist Elisio Medina, who has drawn national attention for fasting in favor of an overhaul of the immigration system, brought his campaign to Atlanta Wednesday and repeated his call for congressional action.

Among other things, Medina supports providing a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S. His “Fast for Families Across America” bus campaign is planning to visit more than a 100 congressional districts in 32 states by next month.

“The time for reform of our immigration laws is long past,” said Medina, who worked alongside labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez. “We cannot afford to have more people die on the border because there is no legal way to get here except walking through the desert in the heat of the day and in the cold of night. “We cannot afford to have more families torn apart through deportation.”

Flanked by two dozen other activists, Democratic state lawmakers and labor leaders, Medina spoke in the shadow of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. served as a co-pastor with his father. Medina said there are parallels between the civil and immigrant rights movements.

Medina visited Atlanta the same day lawmakers in Washington were attempting a long-shot maneuver to force a vote on comprehensive immigration legislation in the House. Called a “discharge petition,” the procedural tactic faced long odds in the Republican-controlled House.

The Democratic-led Senate passed similar legislation on a bipartisan vote last year. But House Republican leaders have refused to take up that bill. Critics have dismissed it as an amnesty bill for lawbreakers.

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