FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 4, 2007
Erik Sorensen, Communications, CAUSA (503) 789-8213
Ramon Ramirez, President, PCUN (503) 989-0073
Salem, OR--This week, a delegation of Oregonians joined over one hundred farmworkers from around the nation in Washington D.C. to talk with members of Congress about important legislation impacting Americas farmworkers and the industry in which they work. The farmworkers, along with growers, explained to members of Congress and their staff the urgency of passing AgJOBS (the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act, S. 340/H.R. 371).
The Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act (AgJOBS) of 2007 would create an earned adjustment program for undocumented farm workers who would be eligible to apply for temporary immigration status based on their past work experience, and could become permanent residents upon satisfying prospective work requirements. The legislation would also streamline the existing H-2A foreign agricultural worker program while preserving and enhancing key labor protections.
The majority of farmworkers in America are undocumented. Increased immigration enforcement by the Bush Administration will drive undocumented workers further underground, leaving workers even more vulnerable to exploitation and further destabilizing the farm labor force. The best solution is AgJOBS. This compromise which was negotiated by a bipartisan group in Congress, the United Farm Workers and key agribusiness representatives, would provide America with a stable farm labor force and would help ensure that farmworkers are treated fairly.
The week long schedule of events around AgJOBS was a collaborative effort organized by United Farm Workers, Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United (Oregon), Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO (FLOC), La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), Rural & Migrant Ministry (NY), ICAN (Idaho), CITA (NY), CATA (NJ/PA), Florida Association of Farmworkers, National Farm Worker Ministry, the Campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and Farmworker Justice.
Among the individuals that participated in Congressional meetings with Oregon's Senators and Representatives were Ramon Ramirez, President of Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United (PCUN), Craig J. Regelbrugge, Vice President for Government Relations & Research of American Nursery and Landscape Association, Michael Gempler, President of the National Council of Agricultural Employers, Francisco Espericueta and Moises Ibanez with Latinos Unidos Siempre, and Leodegario Vallejo and Carmen Gonzalez, both Oregon farm workers. A representative from California Farm Bureau also joined the group during their visits with Oregon Legislators.