Keep Me in the Loop! Immigrant Rights: Cesar Chavez’s Granddaughter to March for Immigrant Rights at Rally to Restore Sanity

Cesar Chavez’s Granddaughter to March for Immigrant Rights at Rally to Restore Sanity

Among those who will be marching on the National Mall is a delegation of the United Farm Workers union led by founder Cesar Chavez’s granddaughter, Julie Rodriguez, and its Arizona director. If you’re going to be at the rally, you can sign up to join them here.

Stephen Colbert has made immigrant rights, in particular farm worker rights, one of his champion causes. He has featured the UFW and “Take Our Jobs” on three episodes of The Colbert Report. Most recently, he testified in Congress on behalf of undocumented farm workers, breaking out of character shortly to explain his motivations: "…it seems like one of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work but don’t have any rights as a result. But yet we still invite them to come here and at the same time ask them to leave. […] Migrant workers suffer and have no rights."

Yesterday, Colbert’s interview guest was Efren Barajas, UFW’s national vice-president, who talked about what it was like working on farms as a young undocumented immigrant. This Saturday’s delegation will be marching in support of AgJobs, a bi-partisan bill negotiated by both major agribusiness employers and the UFW. If passed, the bill would provide an “earned legalization” process for undocumented farm workers, and a path toward residency for H2A guest workers. Eighty-five percent of our nation’s farm workers are immigrants, and more than half are undocumented. Under the H2A guest worker program, workers receive a visa after signing a contract with an agricultural employer, and it is revoked if they attempt to change employers. Furthermore, in order to receive return transportation they usually cannot afford, workers must stay employed with the same company until the end of the contract. What this translates to is a system whereby employers know their immigrant workers are trapped, and where abuses are tolerated because workers have no opportunity to seek other employment without fearing deportation. Furthermore, H2A is capped at a maximum 3-year stay. This means that agricultural employers train workers, and then are expected to lose their most experienced employees every few years. It also means immigrants come to the United States, establish a life, and are then expected to return to the conditions they previously sought to escape. Our flawed guest worker program is one of the biggest reasons a large chunk of our nation’s farm workers are undocumented and toiling in the shadows. Even if you don’t make it to Saturday’s rally, you can still make your voice heard by joining the virtual rally and urging Congress to pass AgJobs now.


  Gabriela Garcia is a freelance writer who has written for Latina, the Miami New Times, National Geographic Traveler blog, and Matador Network blogs, amongst other publications.