Rep. Kilmer to fast over immigrant rights
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, is joining other Democrats today in highlighting the immigration bill.

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

WASHINGTON — Rep. Derek Kilmer said he will fast today in solidarity with immigrant-rights activists in Seattle and Forks to prod Congress into passing immigration reform — and demand that President Barack Obama suspend deportations.

The weeklong protest, titled “Not One More Deportation,” is being coordinated by the National Day Laborer Organizing network and began May 1 in California.

In addition to Washington state, it continues in Oregon, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and other states over the next few weeks, Washington State Labor Council spokeswoman Kathy Cummings said.

Kilmer, a Democrat, represents the 6th Congressional District, which includes Clallam and Jefferson counties.

In the nation's capital, Kilmer will fast from sun-up to sun-down, Kilmer's spokesman Stephen Carter said Monday.

“He is fasting specifically to encourage Congress to act on immigration reform,” Carter said.

“He was told about what was going on, and he wanted to join to encourage Congress to act,” Carter added.

“He will probably be drinking water.”

Those fasting are pushing for immigration reform that includes a so-called pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.

The Democrat-controlled Senate passed an immigration reform bill last week, 68-32, that included support from 14 Republicans.

But the legislation faces a tougher time in the House, which is controlled by Republicans

House Speaker John Boehner has said any legislation that is considered by the House will need support from a majority of Republicans.

It fell far short of that threshold in the Senate, where no Democrats voted against the bill.

A border security amendment in the Senate legislation requires a doubling of Border Patrol agents along with fencing, drones and sensors.

Lesley Hoare of the Forks Human Rights Network, an immigrant-rights group based on the Peninsula's West End, also plans to fast Wednesday for 24 hours beginning at 9 a.m.

She was fasting Monday, she said.

She will be drinking only water “to bring more attention to what's happening in immigration reform,” Hoare said.

But Hoare was critical of the Senate legislation.

“It will become increasingly difficult for people to continue the path and not be excluded along the way,” she said.

Day laborers also began fasting Monday across the state, including Seattle, Cummings said in a statement.

A rally was scheduled for Monday afternoon at the Federal Building in Seattle.

Others fasting today along with Kilmer will include Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson, Casa Latina Executive Director Hilary Stern and Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action President Robby Stern.

“As Congress debates immigration reform, more than 1,100 people are deported each day, creating a moral crisis as families and children are needlessly separated,” Cummings said.

“A truly comprehensive approach to immigration reform must protect workers' rights and civil rights, reject militarization of the border and eliminate barriers to a pathway to citizenship.”

Cummings said Monday that the fast is a “rolling” event in which various groups are “passing the torch to the next group.”

Others fasting throughout the week includes union leaders, agricultural workers and caregivers.



Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 01. 2013 6:11PM
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