NEW JERSEY—New Jersey’s Cory Booker today became the second United States senator to work alongside farm workers as part of the United Farm Workers’ and UFW Foundation’s “Take Our Jobs” campaign for immigration reform. Last September, professional farm workers invited all 100 U.S. senators to work a day with them in the fields while immigration reform measures remain stalled in the Senate. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) worked in Ventura County vegetable fields north of Los Angeles on June 3.
Working at a New Jersey farm, Sen. Booker harvested lettuce, cleaned leafy greens, and ended the day planting tomatoes. Photos of the senator working are available here.
“I left today with a renewed appreciation of the incredible job that farm workers do each day in the face of immense challenges and struggle,” said Senator Booker. “From being the foundation of our nation’s food system to standing on the frontlines of our nation’s continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic, farm workers perform work that is vital for our nation. For far too long, however, many of them have been denied basic legal protections, benefits, and a pathway to citizenship. I am grateful for those who shared their stories with me today. It’s long overdue for Congress to act to protect farm workers and our food system.”
“I am glad Senator Booker took the opportunity to come and work alongside incredibly skilled farm workers like those he met today in New Jersey,” said UFW President Teresa Romero. “Farm workers have done the skilled and often grueling work to keep our food supply stable crisis after crisis. The Senate needs to work just as hard for them. I hope more members of Congress accept our invitation to join us in the fields and see for themselves just how much skill this difficult work requires.”
“We applaud Senator Booker for taking the time to spend a day working in the fields alongside farm workers to highlight the need for immigration reform,” added UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres. “Day in and day out, farm workers show up to work to nourish us all. Just as farm workers toil away in the fields to feed families all over the U.S., we hope that all 100 senators commit themselves to work just as hard for these brave men and women and do all they can to pass immigration reform.”
The bipartisan, farm worker-and employer-negotiated Farm Workforce Modernization Act would allow undocumented farm workers to earn the right to permanently stay in this country by continuing to labor in agriculture. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act last passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2021, with 30 Republican votes—the most bipartisan support for any immigration bill in years.
The “Take Our Jobs” campaign was first launched in 2010, with more than four million Americans visiting a website set up by the union. The UFW offered to link unemployed persons during the 2008 recession with jobs in agriculture near their homes anywhere in America. Out of the four million-plus who visited the site, only 11 people responded to the UFW’s offer to work in the fields. Comedian and now Late Show host Stephen Colbert featured Take Our Jobs in three segments of his then-Comedy Central show and worked a day in the fields himself. See here and here and here. Colbert proceeded to testify out of character before a U.S. House immigration subcommittee. ###