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Group fasts near Capitol for immigration reform

Wednesday - 11/13/2013, 4:43am  ET

A community tent for fasting and prayer has been set up a few blocks west of the Capitol. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)
WASHINGTON - Prayer and fasting might be the push needed to get Congress to agree on something.

Beginning Tuesday, a group of faith, immigrant rights and labor leaders holed up in a community tent set up on the National Mall.

Just blocks from the Capitol, they're fasting and praying for Congress to pass immigration reform.

"Sometimes you can organize and march and struggle and work as hard as you can," says Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners. "All you can do sometimes is pray for a miracle."

A small group -- just four on site -- plans to keep up the fast. But leaders vow many more will join them in solidarity as their schedules allow.

The only end date provided: the passage of immigration reform in Congress.

At a news conference marking the launch on Tuesday, leaders acknowledged that they were aware many political watchers now believe it's unlikely Congress will take up the polarizing and thorny subject before the end of the year.

No matter. Participants say theirs is the cause of Martin Luther King Jr., César Chávez and Mahatma Gandhi.

"I know that going without food will not be easy, and I know that I will suffer physical hunger," says Eliseo Medina, the secretary-treasurer of the Services Employees International Union.

"But there is a deeper hunger with in me -- a hunger for an end to a system that creates such misery among those who come here to escape poverty and violence in search of the American dream," he says.

The long, white community tent has been set up near 3rd Street and Jefferson Drive in Southwest D.C.

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