Jul 26, 2010
We are a nation that doesn't understand how food reaches our tables.
American agriculture depends on a hardworking, dedicated immigrant
workforce. About three-quarters of all crop workers were born outside
the country. Since the 1990s, at least half are not authorized to
legally work in the U.S., according to government statistics.
In an era of high unemployment, these undocumented workers have
become scapegoats for our nation's economic woes. Many people blame the
high unemployment rate on foreigners, who they accuse of taking jobs
away from citizens. Movements are afoot to remove them from the country.
Congress's failure to enact much needed immigration reform has created this situation.
United Farm Workers (UFW) is addressing these issues with the "Take Our Jobs"
campaign. We're inviting citizens and legal residents to apply for jobs
on farms across the country to help bring to homes, restaurants and
workplace cafeterias (including those serving members of Congress) the
food that fuels the people of this great nation.
If all undocumented farm workers are deported, as some have called
for, the agricultural industry would need at least one million citizens
or legal residents to replace the labor of these immigrants, according
to government statistics. The fact is that large numbers of U.S.
citizens have not worked on farms for decades. Despite the nation's
economic turmoil, only three people accepted our invitation to work on
farms in our campaign's first four weeks.
The "Take Our Jobs" campaign spotlights the immigrant labor issue and
the need for Congress to enact much needed immigration reform. Without
it, the domestic agricultural industry will be crippled.
United Farm Workers has proposed a bipartisan solution to this issue: The AgJOBS bill, which is also supported by employers.
The proposed law would give undocumented farm workers presently here
the opportunity to earn legal status by continuing to work on farms.
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) are the
principal co-authors in the Senate, along with Representatives Adam
Putnam (R-FL) and Howard Berman (D-CA) in the House.
Farm laborers do the difficult work most Americans are unwilling to
do, as the "Take Our Jobs" campaign has shown. These workers are
professional laborers with essential skills needed to cultivate our
Almost everyone in the United States depends on these farms and
workers for food. Failure to act on the AgJOBS bill before Congress will
encourage the exportation of our food production to other countries.
Agriculture will go the way of the once-vibrant textile, steel, and auto
Ignoring these issues will only lead to more ill-conceived laws like
the one recently passed in Arizona (SB 1070), which supports racial
profiling and is driving away much-needed farm laborers.
The UFW supports farm workers regardless of their legal status or
nationality. Failure to act now on the AgJOBS bill will only exacerbate
the nation's current economic woes.
We encourage you to write to Congress to pass this crucial piece of
legislation that will address a long-ignored problem and bolster the
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.