This past Tuesday, faith, labor, and community leaders met on the sidewalk outside an unassuming office building in Herndon, VA. They gathered early in the morning outside the district office of Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA-10) to fast and await the arrival of the Fast for Families Bus Tour.
The tour, which completed its route in Washington D.C. yesterday, has covered more than 18,000 miles and over 90 congressional districts to call upon the House of Representatives to enact comprehensive immigration reform. At each stop along the tour, members of local communities have joined activists in fasting, praying, and addressing representatives and their staffers with demands for reform and justice.
During Tuesday’s fast, diverse groups held signs with messages for Rep. Wolf, who has at times expressed support of immigration reform but has failed to take any action to move legislation forward. While many marched and chanted, a small delegation went inside Wolf’s office and met with staffers to discuss the urgent need for immigration reform, and later held a press conference for local media.
One of those who spent the day in Herndon was Rev. Dr. Carmelo Santos, a pastor at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Springfield, VA. As an ELCA pastor with Latino ministries, Rev. Santos serves a congregation of many immigrants who are deeply impacted by our broken immigration system. He has been a strong supporter of LIRS, and has spoken boldly as a Lutheran voice on immigrant issues. Rev. Santos was also a participant at our recent Lutheran Immigration Leadership Summit, during which he visited the offices of other Virginia representatives to advocate for reform. Holding a “Lutherans for Compassionate Immigration Reform” sign and marching and leading prayers with mothers, fathers, students, laborers, and fellow ministers, Rev. Santos’ presence at Tuesday’s event affirmed the importance of the involvement of faith leaders in the immigration reform movement.
As House leaders continually fail to act in favor of justice for our immigrant brothers and sisters, the faith community remains a source of hope to activists and immigrant communities alike. As Rev. Santos explained to the crowd in front of Rep. Wolf’s office, “There is a difference between hope and optimism. Optimism means that of all the possible options, the best one is going to happen. But that’s not hope. Hope means that we believe in the God that creates everything out of nothing… the God that raises the dead. So we have hope because we trust that our cause is a just cause, and that God is for just causes. We are joining our fast, our prayers, our solidarity with the suffering of those that have been separated from their families.”
As activists and leaders continue to put pressure on elected officials to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform, we call upon the Lutheran community to pray and act with hope in God’s justice. You, too, can raise your voice by asking your local representative to take action on enacting comprehensive immigration reform. Check out our 2014 Neighbor to Neighbor Toolkit in order to plan a visit to your local representative, order a “Lutherans for Compassionate Immigration Reform” lawn sign, and visit our Action Center to learn more.