November 21, 2013
Immigrant Farmworkers, Labor Leaders and Immigration Advocates to the Republican House: “Do Your Jobs” on Immigration
Advocates Deliver Immigrant Processed Turkeys, Merlot and Fact Sheets to Speaker Boehner, Steve King and Other Key GOP Members; Remind Them Who’s Working Hard for America While They’re Taking More Days Off
Washington, DC – While Congress has been busy voting to repeal Obamacare forty-seven times, blaming the President for [insert anything here], taking 198 days off (including 32 of the final 40 days in 2013 as of today), complaining about having to read too many pages of legislation, and whining about “not having enough time” to do anything productive in 2013, millions of immigrant workers have been working day in and day out to help put Thanksgiving dinner on the tables of millions of Americans.
Today, immigrant farmworkers, labor leaders and immigration advocates launched the “Do Your Jobs” campaign as a reminder to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and the rest of the House Republican caucus about who is actually working hard for America and who needs to step it up.
According to Esther Lopez, Director of United Food and Commercial Workers International Union’s (UFCW) Civil Rights and Community Action Department, “At the UFCW, we are proud to put food on America’s table, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day of the year. Our members work hard—often in difficult conditions—to provide an excellent product for their customers and communities. UFCW members are doing their jobs. It is time for Congress to do the same. Give us a vote on comprehensive immigration reform.”
As a send-off to Congress before they take their two-week Thanksgiving break, advocates delivered turkeys processed by immigrants to Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and other targeted Republican Members to remind them about the back-breaking work immigrants and others do in America every single day (see below for a full list of Members of Congress who received deliveries).
As a special touch, Boehner received an immigrant-harvested bottle of merlot wine (his favorite). Volunteers from each organization also handed out fact sheets to key Members of Congress, outlining the hard work that immigrants do to harvest produce, process meats, prepare foods, clean houses, and complete the numerous other jobs necessary to set our nation’s Thanksgiving tables while Members of Congress enjoy their two-week break (see the fact sheet here).
Giev Kashkooli, National Vice President of United Farm Workers (UFW) delivered turkeys and wine alongside two immigrant grape growers from the Yakima Valley in Washington, providing a face behind the hard work that goes into providing Speaker Boehner with the wine he adores.
As one of the growers, Adelaida Mendoza, UFW member from Mabton, Washington, said at today’s press conference, “It takes a lot of hard work to produce the grapes that make Merlot wine. From January when we begin to prune the vines early in the morning in 20 degree weather through the harvest season in the summer heat when poisonous snakes are regular visitors at our feet to now when we prepare the ground for the next year, the work is difficult. Now, we ask Speaker Boehner and the Republican House Leaders to Do Your Job. How can Speaker Boehner let Republicans take 32 of the next 40 days off when our country needs immigration reform?”
Added Maria Ramirez, UFW member and immigrant grape harvester from Benton, Washington, “Our work is difficult but we love doing this work producing wine that so many Americans enjoy. I am here today because the struggle that our families have to win a new immigration process is so important. We have done our job so others can enjoy wine. Now, we want Speaker Boehner and Republican leaders to do their job.”
Thus far, instead of actually doing something to address immigration (an issue that’s been debated for decades), Speaker Boehner has found nearly every excuse in the book to avoid actually doing his job by tackling this issue and the many others he’s left on the table. The only immigration vote the Speaker found time to schedule this year was on a Rep. Steve King (R-IA) amendment to deport DREAMers and others, yet so far he hasn’t found the 20 minutes needed to vote on an immigration proposal that the vast majority of Americans support.
“Immigrants show up for work and do their jobs. House members show up at the Capitol but do not do their jobs. Instead, they play politics with our lives,” said Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota. “If House members do not pass commonsense immigration reform with a path to citizenship, they will suffer the consequences next November. It’s as simple as that. The House can act today or face the consequences tomorrow.”
Donations were also made in the name of the Republican Members who did not receive turkeys today as well as the immigrant workers who produced these products to a local area food bank.
Said Andrea Zuniga, Legislative Representative of the AFL-CIO, “Each day Speaker Boehner delays immigration reform workers pay the price with stolen wages, unsafe working conditions and threats of deportation if they try to organize. Many of these workers will not have the luxury of spending Thanksgiving with their families- they will be working extra shifts to make ends meet or praying for family members that have been deported. It’s time for Speaker Boehner to give us a vote and fix our broken immigration system in a manner that protects all workers.”
“Immigrant workers spend hours preparing and harvesting the food that we eat every day. While Speaker Boehner and other House Republicans are enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with their families, immigrants are facing permanent separation from their families—all because the House Republican leadership will not act. Our message is simple: do the right thing. Pass immigration reform to let these hardworking immigrants become hardworking Americans, said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice.
This new campaign is follow-up to the “Take Our Jobs” campaign of 2010 where United Farm Workers invited American workers to step into the shoes of an immigrant farmworker. Stephen Colbert and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) took up the offer and witnessed firsthand the difficulties of doing this backbreaking labor. As millions of immigrants continue their hard work to contribute to our country, we’re just asking that Congress do the same.
In August, leaders from UFW, America’s Voice and United We Dream responded to comments from Steve King about DREAMers having “calves the size of cantaloupes” by delivering sweet American-grown and immigrant harvested cantaloupes to all the 224 Members who voted in favor of Steve King’s amendment to deport DREAMers. Just as House leadership gave Steve King his vote, leaders demanded that Speaker Boehner schedule their vote on citizenship as well.
List of Members’ Offices Receiving Deliveries:
Receiving Turkey, Merlot and Fact Sheets:
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)
Receiving Turkeys and Fact Sheets:
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)
Rep. Steve King (R-IA)
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA)
Receiving Fact Sheets and a Donation to a Local Food Back in theirs and an Immigrant Workers Name:
Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV)
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO)
Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC)
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY)
Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY)
Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV)
Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA)
Rep. Scot Tipton (R-CO)
Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL)