Skip to main content

Delaying vote on immigration is immoral

By Debbie Wasserman Schultz
December 12, 2013 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
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
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT)
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says the left mistrusts Clinton but there are ways she can win support from liberals in 2016
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
August 16, 2014 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says the way cops, media, politicians and protesters have behaved since Michael Brown's shooting shows not all the right people have learned the right lessons
August 17, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says the American military advisers in Iraq are sizing up what needs to be done and recommending accordingly
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1941 GMT (0341 HKT)
Marc Lamont Hill says the President's comments on the Michael Brown shooting ignored its racial implications
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 2146 GMT (0546 HKT)
Joe Stork says the catastrophe in northern Iraq continues, even though many religious minorities have fled to safety: ISIS forces -- intent on purging them -- still control the area where they lived
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 2226 GMT (0626 HKT)
Tim Lynch says Pentagon's policy of doling out military weapons to police forces is misguided and dangerous.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
S.E. Cupp says millennials want big ideas and rapid change; she talks to one of their number who serves in Congress
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
Dorothy Brown says the power structure is dominated by whites in a town that is 68% black. Elected officials who sat by silently as chaos erupted after Michael Brown shooting should be voted out of office
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Bill Schmitz says the media and other adults should never explain suicide as a means of escaping pain. Robin Williams' tragic death offers a chance to educate about prevention
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
Nafees Syed says President Obama should renew the quest to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 2024 GMT (0424 HKT)
Eric Liu says what's unfolded in the Missouri town is a shocking violation of American constitutional rights and should be a wake-up call to all
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 1922 GMT (0322 HKT)
Neal Gabler says Lauren Bacall, a talent in her own right, will be defined by her marriage with the great actor Humphrey Bogart
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
Bob Butler says the arrest of two journalists covering the Ferguson story is alarming
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 2035 GMT (0435 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says we all need to work together to make sure the tension between police and African-Americans doesn't result in more tragedies
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 2308 GMT (0708 HKT)
Michael Friedman says depression does not discriminate, cannot be bargained with and shows no mercy.
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
Mary Allen says because of new research and her own therapy, she no longer carries around the fear of her mother, which had turned into a generalized fear of everything
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 1959 GMT (0359 HKT)
Gilbert Gottfried says the comedian was most at home on the comedy club stage, where he was generous to his fellow stand-up performers
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 2054 GMT (0454 HKT)
Iris Baez, whose son was killed by an illegal police chokehold, says there must be zero tolerance for police who fatally shoot or otherwise kill unarmed people such as Michael Brown
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 1246 GMT (2046 HKT)
Maria Cardona says as he seeks a path to the presidency, the Kentucky Senator is running from his past stated positions. But voters are not stupid--and they know how to use the internet
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 0219 GMT (1019 HKT)
Gene Seymour says the shock at the actor and comedian's death comes from its utter implausibility. For many of us over the last 40 years or so, Robin Williams was an irresistible force of nature that nothing could stop.
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
Soledad O'Brien says the story of two veterans told in a documentary airing on CNN shows the challenges resulting from post-traumatic stress
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 1525 GMT (2325 HKT)
LZ Granderson says we must not surrender to apathy about the injustice faced by African Americans
ADVERTISEMENT