By Tomas E. Robles Jr., Arizona outreach coordinator for the United Farm Workers Foundation
As we are engulfed in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform, we recognize that our work is not done and that we must continue the legacy, teachings and commitment to justice that Cesar Chavez stood for.
On April 1, many across our nation will celebrate Cesar Chavez Day. It is also a day when we celebrate the last 50 years during which the United Farm Workers (UFW), the Cesar Chavez Foundation and the UFW Foundation have worked to provide our immigrant and Latino communities with resources and opportunities to advance in our great nation.
Cesar Chavez’s journey to form the farm worker movement
Cesar Chavez began organizing in the fields to ensure that everyone was treated fairly and given the most basic human rights. Through his and Dolores Huerta’s vision, the UFW started a movement that is still relevant today.
The journey has been difficult. Strikes would lead to violent retaliations, but to respond to violence with more violence would only hurt our movement. Cesar Chavez would begin to fast as a demonstration of the importance of non-violence. Demonstrations, marches, fasts and boycotts would become sources of unity, not just throughout the state of California but nationally and internationally as well.
Immigration has always been an important topic for the farm worker movement. In 1986, the UFW was instrumental in helping to enact the amnesty provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) to help more than 1 million workers become legal residents. Today, we continue our fight for a new immigration process.
UFW Foundation plays a key role in the farm worker movement
While the UFW negotiates the farm worker component of immigration reform with some of the nation’s largest grower associations, the UFW Foundation has worked alongside the union to mobilize farm worker families to make their voices heard in Washington, D.C., and in local congressional districts.
Notably, the UFW Foundation is a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) recognized organization with an immigration attorney and six staff members who are BIA accredited representatives. The organization provides immigration legal services to low-income Latinos and sponsors community educational presentations to provide information on civic participation, immigrant rights, workers rights, etc.
The UFW Foundation began operation with full-time staff in 2006 with a mission to open the doors of opportunity to low-income working people and their communities. With headquarters in Los Angeles and offices in Salinas, Greenfield (Monterey County), Bakersfield, Fresno, and Phoenix, the organization’s staff reaches workers and Latino immigrants with little or no access to transportation. Many of them are undocumented and live in areas where resources are few or non-existent.
Continuing Cesar Chavez’s legacy by fighting for equal rights
As we approach a real possibility of comprehensive immigration reform, we fight to continue the legacy of Cesar Chavez by ensuring that we will never stop fighting for equal rights for every individual who has worked to make this great country of ours better.
We hope that everyone strives to continue Cesar’s legacy of public service and social justice. We urge you to give some time to your community on April 1st, so that we can continue to improve this great nation of ours. Si Se Puede!