"Take Our Jobs"

The United Farm Workers organization has come up with an unusual way to weigh in on the immigration debate that has erupted across the country since Arizona passed legislation requiring law enforcement officers to questions people who look like illegal aliens.

The UFW has begun urging U.S. citizens and legal residents to “Take Our Jobs.” UFW officials kicked off a campaign this week pointing out that the U.S. agriculture would need at least 500,000 people to do the farm-related tasks that are now performed by migrant workers, many of them undocumented, in the United States.

Organizers of the campaign, which includes the UFW, the Migrant Farmworker Justice Project and government officials in California, plan to take it to members of Congress and the general public through a broadcast appearance on the Colbert Show on cable TV on July 8.

“The farm worker population of the United States is overwhelmingly immigrant with about 85 percent of them born outside of the United States,” said Rob Williams, director of the Migrant Farmworker Justice Project. “The vast majority of them are unauthorized.”

I wonder how many of our readers would volunteer to harvest tomatoes in south Florida next month? As someone who used to pick peaches in northeast Arkansas during the summer, I can tell you it’s not as much fun as it might sound. And we were picking in the shade.

Officials with the farm workers union have negotiated the AgJOBS bill with the agricultural industry that would give undocumented farm workers presently here the right to earn legal status by continuing to work in agriculture. Senators Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., are the principal co-authors in the Senate and Congressman Adam Putnam, R-Fla., and Howard Berman. D-Calif., are leading the fight for the bill in the House.

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