Farmers fly to Washington to press for immigration reform
» March 14, 2006 «
Backed by the support of their fellow Californians, the state's family farmers will work for meaningful immigration reform during a visit to the nation's capital this week. They will converge on Washington tomorrow, as part of a nationwide rally to urge immigration reform.
According to a Field Poll released last week, two out of three Californians favor a guestworker program that would allow immigrants to work legally in the United States.
As the U.S. Senate debates immigration reform, farmers from California and other states will gather in Washington to press for a meaningful bill that includes a flexible guestworker program.
Santa Cruz County strawberry grower Elia Vasquez will be among the farmers who visit Capitol Hill this week. She says people need legal channels to enter the U.S. for jobs.
"If everybody could come in a legal way, we wouldn't have this illegal immigration that everybody's complaining about," Vasquez said. "I was an immigrant and was fortunate to come as a legal resident. But that's not open for everybody and right now, there's not a flexible, legal channel for people to come and work."
"As farmers and ranchers, we have relationships with the people who work for us," Tulare County farmer Kerry Whitson said. "We shouldn't push seasonal immigration underground. That harms people. I'm making the trip to Washington to support a system where we know we're working within legal constraints and can meet the letter and the spirit of the law."
Farm Bureau representatives stress that enforcement at the border remains important, but that Congress needs to pass a comprehensive reform plan that offers a complete solution.
"Immigration reform affects every part of the economy," California Farm Bureau Federation President Doug Mosebar said. "Most immigrants come for jobs in hotels, restaurants and other businesses. And immigrant workers play a crucial role in providing a safe, stable supply of American-grown food. That's critical to our national security."
The California Farm Bureau Federation, the state's largest farm organization, works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 88,000 members.
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.Top