Valley farm owner supports bill that offers citizenship to essential workers

Lawmakers behind the bill say those who are risking their lives for our country today should not be deported tomorrow.
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Del Bosque Farms covers more than 300 acres of land producing organic melons for people across the U.S. and even Canada.

Owner Joe Del Bosque says his employees are all essential and have continued to work throughout the pandemic.

"If I lost my crew tomorrow, I lose the crop the next day, it's that critical," he says.

"They work right through spring planting crops, and the summer harvesting crops and they been right here every day since getting prepared for this year."

U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, who is the son of immigrants himself, unveiled the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act on Friday. It would create an expedited pathway to citizenship for more than 5 million essential workers who do not currently have permanent legal status, beginning with immediate adjustment to the status of legal permanent resident. It covers a wide variety of industries, including health care, agriculture, construction, sanitation, and food services.

"Dignity, respect and a pathway to citizenship is personal to me and it's also in the best interest for our nation," Padilla says.

The bill also includes undocumented immigrants who work in essential industries but lost employment during the pandemic, along with undocumented relatives of an essential worker who died from COVID-19.

Del Bosque says the people who work for him remind him of his own humble beginnings.

"When I see people picking melons out here on my farm, I think about my ancestors. My ancestors did that work, my father picked melons in the 30s, and my uncles in the 30s and 40s, so I know where these people come from. They were good people and they raise their families to be good Americans," he says.

The bill would require anyone applying to adjust their status to pay a fee and go through a background check.

Of course, it still has a long way to go for approval.
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