CHICAGO – A Salvadoran-born clergyman set up a camping tent in a Chicago public park where he intends to continue the hunger strike he began 12 days ago to demand immigration reform.
“This camp will serve as a refuge for all those who want to join our protest,” the Rev. Jose Landaverde told Efe.
Landaverde, 42, who has only been ingesting fruit juices during his protest against the U.S. government’s immigration policy, said he had received the support of Mexican-American Alderman George Cardenas, as well as community and business leaders.
The pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Mission chose Douglas Park, located in Chicago’s mainly Mexican Little Village neighborhood, as the spot where he would camp with municipal authorization.
One of the first people to join him there, Mexican Mario Martinez, said that the aim is “to make the most noise possible.”
“We’re not going to leave here, unless they carry us,” he said.
The protest is part of a series of fasts, hunger strikes and acts of civil disobedience organized in Illinois by groups defending undocumented immigrants to pressure Congress to enact immigration reform.
Several activists, including Landaverde, were arrested for blocking access to federal offices in Chicago and to a detention center in the suburbs where undocumented immigrants are held while they await deportation.
“We don’t want them to be unjust, please. Let their hearts be touched,” Martinez said.
He said President Barack Obama could act immediately with an executive order to halt immigration raids and deportations while Congress decides how to craft the reform.
The activists are demanding that the Illinois legislature approve granting a special driver’s license to each of the state’s estimated 500,000 undocumented immigrants.
“The people are tired of seeing working parents persecuted, without being able to get around to feed their children,” Martinez said.
Landaverde, a diabetic, was authorized by the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago to take an 18-month sabbatical to devote himself to the pro-immigrant struggle. EFE