UFW backs immigration overhaul effort

June 13, 2013 12:17:45 AM PDT
The nation's largest farm workers union is backing the effort for an immigration overhaul. Local leaders called on thousands of people to speak up, and call for change.

The United Farm Workers of America announced a plan to create phone banks at a news conference Wednesday morning. They plan to pressure lawmakers to pass immigration reform. Supporters of the bill say the sooner an overhaul happens, many who live in the Valley can stop being afraid.

Valley fields rely on thousands to harvest crop every year. Pablo Arellanes is one of those workers who farm these fields, but he is always worried about being deported.

Using a translator, Arellanes told ABC30 how he came to America from Mexico when he was 14.

Over the next few weeks, he's hoping lawmakers in the nation's capital create a pathway to citizenship for him and about 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Arellanes said through a translator, "If this immigration reform passes he is going to feel more safe and he is not going to be in fear anymore and he is going to be able to go to school and strive for something better."

He is now joining the United Farm Workers of America to push those lawmakers to back the plan.

Clarita Cortes with the United Farm Workers of America added, "Let them know that we want this immigration reform bill to be passed in the senate and then in the House of Representatives."

On Tuesday, the senate voted to move forward with a landmark immigration bill.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims was there, and stood right behind the president in Washington D.C. calling for change.

Supporters say they're hopeful both the senate and the house will approve the measure.

Cortes explained, "It's not a matter of if immigration reform passes, but when it will pass."

Opponents say the path to citizenship is simply amnesty for lawbreakers. And republicans say the bill is not tough enough on border security.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid has said he wants to vote on the bill by the end of the month.

Supporters are hoping the measure will pass before July 4th.


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