Panetta invites former farmworker to State of Union to promote immigration bill
Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., has invited Pablo Martinez, a former farmworker living and working on the central coast of California, as his guest to Tuesday’s State of the Union speech by President Donald Trump, to promote the Farm Workforce Modernization Act that the House has passed but is pending in the Senate.
Martinez worked in the fields of Monterey County for 16 years alongside his parents, harvesting and cultivating grapes, lettuce, strawberries, broccoli, onion, garlic and tomatoes. He attended the Hartnell Community College extension located in King City while working in the fields, and graduated in 2019 with his associate degree in communications from Monterey Peninsula College.
“As a farmworker and president of the Dreamers in Action Club at Monterey Peninsula College, Pablo deeply understands the impact that Congressman Panetta’s Farm Workforce Modernization Act would have on farmworker communities,” Panetta’s office said in a statement.
“For us as undocumented people, we deserve to have a path to citizenship because we work hard but at the same time we are in the shadows,” said Martinez.
“We don’t have a voice, and we can’t participate in this country as any other community members do. It is important that we have some legalization for farmworkers.”
“Every strawberry you eat and every head of lettuce you buy was hand-picked by a farmworker,” Martinez said. “I want the president to recognize our contributions to this country and the important role we play in feeding America and the world.”
“Pablo’s commitment to contribute to our community and country needs to be heard by those in Washington, D.C. and, especially, those in this administration,” said Panetta.
“The central coast of California has deep and strong roots with people who come to this country and work in agriculture. The willingness of people to take risks to come here and work hard here has greatly contributed to the success of our sustained food production on American soil.
“Unfortunately, our current immigration system does not recognize those vital contributions to our economy and communities and has left many agriculture workers unprotected and unable to fully integrate into our society.
“The House passed my bipartisan legislation, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, on a strong bipartisan basis to protect our existing farmworkers and promote and enduring workforce. But now, we need action in the Senate, and ultimately, by the president, to get this done.”
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