Several dozen protesters across California are fasting this week to pressure Congress to make changes to the nation’s immigration system and create a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.
Fasts have been organized in the districts of four Republican congressmen, including Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), the third most powerful GOP member of the House.
McCarthy, who has been the target of months of protests by immigrant and labor groups, has said that there will be no immigration legislation on the floor this year. He has also said he will not support a single comprehensive immigration bill like the one passed earlier this year in the Senate that would allow those who came to the country without permission to apply for citizenship as long as they meet certain requirements.
Supporters of an immigration overhaul say they have the votes in the House to pass a bill like the one approved by the Senate. They blame the House leadership, including Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), for not bringing a bill to a vote.
The California protests will be held in Bakersfield, in McCarthy’s district, as well as in San Bernardino, Modesto and Brea, where activists set up tents Monday near the office of Congressman Ed Royce. Royce has been the target of protests after he joined House Republicans earlier this year in denying funding for President Obama’s deferred action program, which grants work permits and two-year deportation deferrals to young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.