Their visit days after Senate Budget Committee releases preliminary budget with $126B in funding so that farm workers, Dreamers, TPS recipients, and other essential workers can apply for legal status
Washington, D.C.—Farm worker families from Georgia and Washington state will be among the essential workers being honored Sunday at the White House’s 4th of July celebration in-person event on the South Lawn. A UFW Foundation-member farm worker family from Georgia and a United Farm Workers unionized farm worker leader from Washington state and his family will represent the two organizations and the nation’s 2.4 million essential farm workers. The festivities will be the largest event thus far of the Biden presidency.
The farm workers’ visit to the White House comes days after the Senate Budget Committee released a preliminary Democratic budget outline including $126 billion that would put farm workers, Dreamers, TPS holders and other essential workers on a path to legalization using the budget reconciliation process to pass by a simple majority vote. In addition to providing these workers with certainty and protections from deportation, reports indicate supplying a pathway to citizenship would significantly boost the U.S. economy, increasing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $1.5 trillion over 10 years and creating more than 400,000 new jobs. The budget resolution is up for a vote by Democratic senators before they leave for the August recess.
UFW Foundation member Karen, her two younger sisters, Jacqueline and Mayra, and their mother Sonia are the farm worker family from Georgia. Karen and her family have all worked in agriculture, her parents for more than 25 years. The family migrated for many years between Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania before settling in Moultrie, Georgia. They have labored in various crops in addition to packing sheds. They have picked and packed tomatoes, jalapenos, bell peppers, poblano peppers, eggplants, strawberries, onions, cucumbers and tobacco. During the pandemic, Karen’s parents continue harvesting peppers, eggplants, melons and cucumbers.
Fortino Lopez and his wife Ignorina Bustamante live in Sunnyside, Washington where they have raised their three children. He is a pesticide applicator and equipment operator at unionized Chateau Ste. Michelle winery, one of the largest in the state, and a proud UFW member who currently serves as a leader elected by his co-workers to oversee union affairs at Chateau Ste. Michelle. The couple has lived in the U.S. and worked in the fields for more than 30 years. Fortino migrated to the United States in 1984 from Puebla, Mexico as an undocumented immigrant. Ignorina made her journey to the U.S. in 1991 and was also undocumented when she arrived from Guerrero, Mexico. Since then, they have worked in Washington state harvesting asparagus, hops, apples, cherries, pears and nectarines. They consider themselves fortunate to now have legal status and continue to actively fight for immigration reform.
You can read more about the two families, here.
The farm workers traveling to Washington, D.C. are available for interviews in English and Spanish.