On April 7-9th, the Women’s Fast for Families, organized by We Belong Together, SEIU and FIRM, held a 48-hour fast on the National Mall. Valentina Stackl volunteered on behalf of Farmworker Justice and fasted for farmworkers and their families. Valentina writes that over 100 women fasted “to feed the courage of elected officials to pass fair and just immigration reform and to stop the deportations.” Her full blog is available here. Meanwhile, several individuals with family members in detention are currently fasting in front of the White House.
House Democrats continue their efforts to get 218 signatures on a discharge petition to force a House floor vote on H.R. 15, the comprehensive immigration reform bill which includes the agricultural stakeholder agreement. They still need 27 more members to reach their target. It remains unlikely that they get Republican members to sign-on, but they use the petition as a rallying tool to call Republicans who support reform to action.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told donors that he is “hellbent” on passing immigration reform this year, but also said that he does not trust President Obama enough to reach a compromise.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) recently said that Republicans must act on immigration reform before the August recess or Obama will act on his own in response to the mounting pressure from advocates to stop the deportations. Diaz-Balart also claimed that immigration reform is not dead and that he has legislative language that would legalize undocumented immigrants ready to go should the House decide to move forward on reform. He argues that once the President acts, the House would not likely act this year and legislation is not likely to be addressed until there is a new President. (The conventional wisdom is that immigration reform is unlikely during the Republican Presidential primary in 2015 and the Presidential elections in 2016. Therefore, if Republicans want to improve their image with the Latino community, the House should act soon.) Of course, no one can predict the future.
If President Obama provides some sort of administrative relief for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, as he should, it would still be temporary and an incomplete answer. Only Congress can create a path to immigration status and citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Congress is on recess until April 28,th and members are in their home districts.
An informative article in takepart discusses Idaho’s new law that “allows” Idaho prisoners to do farm work, noting its resemblance to slavery and chain gangs. The legislation was proposed as a solution to a claimed farm labor shortage created by Idaho’s anti-immigrant state enforcement law, increased immigration enforcement and a tightening of the border. However, the legislation is focused on providing cheap labor for growers, not creating a solution for farmworkers or prisoners.
The Farmworker Justice Award Reception on May 7 in Washington, D.C. will honor two people who are committed to helping farmworkers win immigration reform: Rep. Judy Chu of California and Guadalupe Gamboa, Senior Program Officer at Oxfam America and a former migrant farmworker, labor organizer and farmworker attorney. Your support for the award reception helps farmworkers advocate for immigration reform.