Strawberry Growers In D.C.
By Laurie Greene, Associate Editor
California Strawberry Commission (CSC) has sent a delegation with the Silicon
Valley Leadership Group to Washington, D.C. to explain the crucial need for
immigration reform. The delegation intends to raise awareness of the critical role
of immigrant labor in the success of California’s high-tech and agriculture
industries and future job growth, as well as the overall health of the national
economy. Finding a way to get a workforce here legally is of paramount
to Carolyn O’Donald, Communications Director of the CSC, the delegation members,
representing the state’s two largest industries, are getting a positive
response this week, thus far, from their meetings with congress people from both
sides of the aisle. The group has had a number of meetings yesterday and today,
and will brief White House staff tomorrow morning.
CSC delegation has taken four strawberry growers who are between 1st
-and 3rd-generation in this country from Watsonville, Salinas, Santa
Maria and Orange County. They will press the need for comprehensive immigration
reform, guest worker programs, and the workforce needed for the California agriculture
and hi-tech industries.
may seem like an odd partnership between strawberries and hi tech,” O’Donald
said, “but we have built a partnership with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group
because we have a lot of characteristics in common. Immigrants play an integral
part in both industries at the work level and at the leadership level in the
running of the company."
65% of our strawberry farmers are Hispanic; some of multi-generational in this
country,” explained O’Donald. “Our economy is built on immigrants. They worked
in coalmines, oil refineries, and steel mills, and they built this country’s infrastructure.
We are still building technology and working the land, so immigrants are major
lynchpins in the California economy.”
been letting this issue fall by the wayside for a long time; since the mid-1980s
we have not had any kind of immigration reform. So, we are trying to see as
many people in Washington, D.C. as possible–-the dealmakers--before their
August recess,” O’Donald remarked. “We are also trying to show the California
delegation, particularly the republican delegation, how important it is to get
this done, this year we hope.”
Labels: California Strawberry Commission, Carolyn O’Donald, comprehensive immigration reform, CSC, guest worker program, hi-tech, immigrants, Silicon Valley Leadership Group