Skip to main content

Delaying vote on immigration is immoral

By Debbie Wasserman Schultz
updated 7:35 AM EST, Thu December 12, 2013
Eliseo Medina, right, who was fasting in support of immigration reform with Fast for Families, talks with fellow fasters on December 2
Eliseo Medina, right, who was fasting in support of immigration reform with Fast for Families, talks with fellow fasters on December 2
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Debbie Wasserman Schultz visited tent where people are fasting for immigrants' rights
  • Wasserman Schultz: Fasters are courageous and committed, sacrificing for what is right
  • She says they want Speaker Boehner to set a vote on the immigration bill in the House
  • She says "This is not a political issue, it's a human issue and delaying a vote is immoral"

Editor's note: Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

(CNN) -- Last week, I had the honor to visit the Fast for Families tent on the national mall. The fasters welcomed me with open arms and a smile despite their struggle. The tent was full of messages of encouragement, expressions of admiration and symbols that remind every visitor of the reason for the fasters' sacrifice: the rights of immigrants and a House vote on the Senate immigration bill.

Volunteers explained the meaning behind each symbol: a shoe they found abandoned in the desert represents the immigrants who lost their lives in search of a better life in the United States; the bottle of cough syrup that has a $75 price tag attached to it represents the many abuses -- physical and economic -- that immigrants suffer trying to come to this country.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Several courageous fasters recalled their stories. Their strength, passion and commitment was clear. One story in particular hit close to home. Rosemarie Soto, an undocumented mother from Arizona who fasted for several days, explained that she constantly worries about being separated from her young children and not being able to see them again. As a mother, I can't imagine not being with my kids and not seeing them grow. Seeing Soto's pain and the fear in her eyes, and the love and sadness in her voice as she asked me in tears: "Tell Speaker Boehner to give us a vote," overcame me with emotion.

Fighting injustice is not a hobby. It's a way of life that requires commitment and unrelenting focus. The fasters embody this way of life and they represent millions of people who are struggling to keep their families together and be treated with dignity. The struggle of the immigrant community is our collective struggle. This is a humanitarian crisis that must be solved.

Obama visits hunger strike protesters

Some have ended their fasts, some recently started. I intend to fight side by side with the fasters, every step of the way until the end, and encourage my Republican colleagues to consider the incredible sacrifice that these men and women have made for the immigrant community, and talk to the many families who are most affected by the GOP obstructionism.

House Speaker John Boehner should make it a priority to do what's right for the 11 million undocumented people living in the United States, instead of caving into the GOP's extreme party politics. My Republican colleagues must simply allow a vote and stop standing in the way of immigration reform.

So, as a mother and a lawmaker, I stand with the fasters calling on Boehner to lead, and help pass immigration reform. I challenge him to live up to the American people's expectations and to honor their wishes -- to stop listening to those in the Republican Party who oppose immigration reform and to do what is right. This is not a political issue, it's a human issue and delaying a vote is immoral.

The fasters' silent sacrifice is sending a very loud and clear message, and their actions are inspiring thousands across the country -- including members of Congress -- to join them in fast. Their efforts won't be in vain. We will get this done.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:18 PM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Frida Ghitis says as violence claims three U.S. doctors, the temptation is to despair, but aid to Afghanistan has made it a much better place
updated 2:33 PM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says in California, Asian-Americans are against the use of racial criteria in public colleges.
updated 2:44 PM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Heidi Schlumpf says if the Pope did tell an Argentinian woman married to a divorced man that she could take Communion, it may signify a softening of church rules on the divorced and sacraments
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Norcross, Georgia, Chief of Police Warren Summers says the new law that allows guns in bars, churches and schools will have unintended dangerous consequences.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Mel Robbins says social media is often ruled by haters, and people can be brutally honest.
updated 12:44 PM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Mike Downey says the golf purists can take a hike; the game needs radical changes to win back fans and players.
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Robert Hickey says most new housing development is high-end, catering to high-earners.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Alexander Motyl says as Russian President Putin snarled at Ukraine, his foreign minister was signing a conciliatory accord with the West. Whatever the game, the accord is a major stand down by Russia
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Les Abend says at every turn, the stowaway teen defied the odds of discovery and survival. What pilot would have thought to look for a person in the wheel well?
updated 7:04 AM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Q & A with artist Rachel Sussman on her new book of photographs, "The Oldest Living Things in the World."
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Martin Blaser says the overuse of antibiotics threatens to deplete our bodies of "good" microbes, leaving us vulnerable to an unstoppable plague--an "antibiotic winter"
updated 1:37 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
John Sutter asks: Is it possible to eat meat in modern-day America and consider yourself an environmentalist without being a hypocrite?
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Sally Kohn notes that Meb Keflezighi rightly was called an American after he won the Boston Marathon, but his status in the U.S. once was questioned
updated 8:56 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Denis Hayes and Scott Denman say on this Earth Day, the dawn of the Solar Age is already upon us and the Atomic Age of nuclear power is in decline
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Retired Coast Guard officer James Loy says a ship captain bears huge responsibility.
updated 1:08 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Peter Bergen says the latest strikes are part of an aggressive U.S. effort to target militants, including a bomb maker
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Cynthia Lummis and Peter Welch say 16 agencies carry out national intelligence, and their budgets are top secret. We need to know how they are spending our money.
updated 8:35 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Julian Zelizer says President Obama knows more than anyone that he has much at stake in the midterm elections.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Eric Sanderson says if you really want to strike a blow for the environment--and your health--this Earth Day, work to get cars out of cities and create transportation alternatives
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Bruce Barcott looks at the dramatic differences in marijuana laws in Colorado and Louisiana
updated 4:47 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery supports the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
updated 1:52 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
updated 2:25 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
updated 6:26 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
updated 2:45 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT