Union groups and immigrant advocates are urging President Obama to include farm workers in his planned executive action on immigration.
“It makes absolutely no sense, none whatsoever, to take farm workers, hundreds of thousands of them we all know are undocumented, and to take them from our fields,” Rep. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) said at a labor union event in front of the White House on Thursday.
“What we should do is document them. Mr. President, give them the working documents they need.”
Obama is expected to unveil his plan to overhaul federal immigration policies via administrative action during a prime-time speech to the nation Thursday night.
Members of the United Farm Workers and United Food and Commercial Workers labor unions sought to make sure they are not forgotten in the plan, laying out a mock feast — including bread, potatoes, grapes and corn — on a folding table in Lafayette Park, and carrying signs that read, “My work feeds this country.”
Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers Union, said undocumented foreign farm and poultry plant workers are doing the jobs no one else will do.
“The protracted political debates and the partial solutions offered by House Republicans ignore the inconvenient truth that America’s food will continue to come to our tables through the toils and exploitations of undocumented farm workers and poultry workers,” he said.
“Instead of a seat at our nation’s table, farm workers live in the shadows subjected to inhumane working conditions, rampant sexual harassment, wage theft and the threat of deportation if they dare to stand up for their humanity.”
A week ago members of the Dreamers' Moms USA stood starving in the same park on Day Twelve of a three-week hunger strike that could soon be coming to an end.
Though Gutiérrez has told media outlets that Obama’s plan will grant two-year work permits and require those who apply to have American citizen children, he was coy when pressed for additional details on Wednesday.
“I never said I had inside knowledge,” he said.