The Common Good

The Man Who Kept Immigration Reform Alive

Date: February 3, 2014

Eliseo Medina is a relentless optimist. The 67-year-old activist has a genial demeanor and a calm, unassuming way about him -- qualities that have served him well during his decades-long career pushing for workers' rights and immigration reform. When you're fighting uphill battles, it helps to remain positive...

On Nov. 12 on the National Mall, Medina began his vigil, officially called the Fast for Families, along with Dae Joong Yoon of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, Cristian Avila of Mi Familia Vota and Lisa Sharon Harper of the Christian social justice group Sojourners. They were joined by more than 100 supporters over the course of the fast, including Rudy Lopez of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, who started later but also fasted for 22 days total. During the day, they would share their own personal immigration stories with visitors and lead prayers for immigration reform. At night, since National Park Service regulations prohibit sleeping on the Mall, volunteers would man the tent so Medina and the others could rest at a nearby hotel.