Following the day known in America for gluttony, President Barack Obama made an appearance at the tent of activists fasting.
Sitting in a circle with the three fasters who for 18 days have abstained from all food and drink—except water—Obama and the First Lady visited to offer their support for those who are fasting on behalf of immigration reform, a White House official said.
“I'm very proud of you, and am optimistic to get this done,” Obama said. “It's a matter of when not if, but want to get done sooner than later.”
The President told them “nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come,” and that he wanted to stop by and let them know, “I appreciate you, (and) to hear what you're going through individually.”
According to a White House official he thanked them for “their sacrifice and dedication, and told them that the country is behind them on immigration reform."
"The President told them that it is not a question of whether immigration reform will pass, but how soon,” the official added. “He said that the only thing standing in the way is politics, and it is the commitment to change from advocates like these brave fasters that will help pressure the House to finally act."
The advocates are part of the group called Fast for Families and are hoping their action will encourage Republican leadership in the House to act on immigration reform.
Fusion’s Jorge Ramos asked two of the fasters on Tuesday how far they were willing to take their cause.
“I don’t think any of us have a death wish, but I am willing to take this fast as long as my body holds up,” Cristian Avila,23, said. “To bring the urgency that our families need this immigration reform, to bring it to the attention of speaker Boehner, to give us a vote on citizenship.”
Cristian has lost between 16-17 pounds since the start.
“We have a lot to live for, we know that we are going to have to keep struggling, I think that by personal example,” Eliseo Medina, who has lost nearly 20 pounds, said. “As long as our bodies hold out we will be at the foot of the capitol letting them know we need this vote, and we need it now.”
Earlier this week in California, President Obama praised the group.
“I'm seeing brave advocates who have been fasting for two weeks in the shadow of the Capitol, sacrificing themselves in an effort to get Congress to act,” Obama said. “I want them to know we hear you. We're with you. The whole country hears you.”
According to a White House official, the President’s visit comes on the heels of other administration members including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.