For Immediate Release
May 5, 2004
For More Information, Contact
Jessica Culley 856-881-2507
Nelson Carrasquillo 856-881-2507
CATA's Response to New Comprehensive Immigration Legislation
My name is Jose Manuel Guzmán and I represent CATA – The Farmworker Support Committee, a community based organization of farmworkers in New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
I would like to thank the sponsors of this legislation, because it includes points in favor of immigrant workers. The most important of these is that it permits workers and their families to work towards permanent residency. One of the principal priorities of CATA’s membership is the immigration situation. As many of you know, the majority of farmworkers come to this country undocumented in order to be able to offer their families a better life. Every year, hundreds of them die trying to cross the border. Others are beaten or victims of rape.
Once they are here, farmworkers encounter health and safety problems in one of the most dangerous jobs. They are exploited on the job. Their basic rights are not respected. They don’t have the right to overtime, nor do they qualify to solicit unemployement. They are not protected from retaliation if they want to get organized in their workplaces. They also encounter discrimination from the local authorities in the areas where they live. Not having legal documents in this country makes them even more vulnerable to persecution.
Immigrant workers are demanding that they be treated as human beings, and that they not be seen as terrorists. It is our work that puts the food on your tables. It is time that there be justice for us and our families. The proposal being put forth today, and others already submitted to Congress such as the Ag Jobs bill, recognizes the work that we immigrants do, and the rights that we have because it permits people to become residents over time, and to solicit residency for our families. We are not in agreement with the proposal of President Bush because it would maintain immigrant workers in a sub-class and would not allow them us to move forward with our families