Local Politics

Wednesday, Nov 20 2013 05:00 PM

Activists bring immigration fast to Bakersfield

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    People gather near the Liberty Bell in downtown Bakersfield to pray the Rosary Wednesday. The people were gathered to bring attention to the need for immigration reform and to support a 24-hour fast by 12 individuals including Andres Chavez, the grandson of UFW co-founder Cesar Chavez. According to a UFW press release, the fast will take place at the Liberty Bell for 24 hours and the individuals fasting plan to stay overnight at the Liberty Bell.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    People pray the Rosary near the Liberty Bell in downtown Bakersfield Wednesday. Many people gathered to bring attention to the need for immigration reform and to support a 24-hour fast by 12 individuals including Andres Chavez, the grandson of UFW co-founder Cesar Chavez.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Maria Munoz, center, leads a group in praying the Rosary near the Liberty Bell in downtown Bakersfield Wednesday. People were gathered to bring attention to the need for immigration reform and to support a 24-hour fast by 12 individuals including Andres Chavez, the grandson of UFW co-founder Cesar Chavez. According to a UFW press release, the fast will take place at the Liberty Bell for 24 hours and the individuals fasting plan to stay overnight at the Liberty Bell.

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

A grandson of late United Farm Workers of America co-founder Cesar E. Chavez was among immigration reform supporters who at the Liberty Bell in downtown Bakersfield Wednesday participated in a nationwide fast.

The "Fast for Families" campaign kicked off in Washington, D.C., Nov. 12, with some refusing to eat until House Republicans vote on immigration-reform legislation -- something not expected to happen this year.

The fast that Andres Chavez, 19, participated in locally was a more modest, 24-hour one. His fellow local participants included a Cal State Bakersfield professor and immigrants affected by current immigration laws, the UFW said in a news release.

"I'm not fasting as a tactic to win political support for immigration reform," Chavez said in the release. "I'm fasting to reach into the hearts and minds of people -- in this case the Republican members of the House of Representatives who are holding up immigration reform."

Numerous local immigration-reform protests have been held to try to convince Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, and other GOP House leaders to put up for a vote a comprehensive immigration-reform bill that includes giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

They've had seemingly little effect.

McCarthy has ruled out any action this year and advocated for a more piecemeal approach to dealing with immigration reform, starting with border security measures. That has put him at odds with Kern County's other congressman, David Valadao, R-Hanford, who has urged his party's leaders to have the House vote on a comprehensive bill this year.

Unlike McCarthy, Valadao is expected to face stiff opposition from a Democrat in a heavy Latino district next year.

The UFW said in the release that at least 12 people in Bakersfield committed to abstaining from eating for 24 hours. They planned to stay overnight at the Liberty Bell.

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