SJ Jung, president of the MinKwon Center for Community Action in Flushing, was forced to end his eight-day fast in Washington, DC to promote immigration reform due to deteriorating health.
He and other proponents have been at a Fast for Families Tent on the National Mall near the Capitol Building. Participants are only drinking water.
They hope to “move the hearts and compassion” of members of Congress to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship for people here illegally, according to the MinKwon Center.
One of the recent visitors to the tent was Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who asked fasters how they were doing.
“Personally, I am suffering from stomach pain and nausea,” Jung said he told Perez, “but, whenever I see the other fasters, I am inspired. I am inspired and encouraged because I see firsthand that we are making a real impact. I think this tent is a beacon of hope, not only for the immigrant community but also for our entire nation.”
Perez pledged to spread the word about the fast, and to assist in the effort to pass the comprehensive immigration bill that is stalled in the House of Representatives.
The fast began on Nov. 12 and includes members of the clergy, labor leaders and immigrant rights advocates. The number of participants varies.
Jung ended his fast on Monday after doctors determined he was too weak to continue.
During his time in Washington, Jung spent most days in the tent, sleeping elsewhere.
Jung, 49, a Korean immigrant, moved here in 1986 and served for four years as executive director of the then-YKASEC. The group’s name was changed to MinKwon Center in 2009. The nonprofit organization promotes education and offers legal clinics, language classes and more to immigrants.
In 2009, Jung ran unsuccessfully for the District 20 City Council seat in Flushing in the Democratic primary.