IDAHO — Beatrice Santiago is from Homedale. She started working in the agricultural fields with her parents at the age of 13.
“We worked everything from cherries to apples, picking grapes and we also are detasseling corn. Sometimes we would wake up early as 4:00 a.m. to get ready for the day-shift,” Santiago said.
Santiago is now a senior at the University of Idaho studying Latin American Studies, Spanish with a minor in Broadcasting and International Studies. She advocates for immigrant farmworker communities and it’s what drew her to participate in the United Farm Worker’s (UFW) march in Washington D.C.
‘It was very emotional, just seeing everybody and I can see my family reflected when I saw each of these farmworkers. You can just tell how passionate everyone was,” she said.
The organization UFW invited farmworkers from across the country to a march in Washington D.C. after Senate Parliamentarian said Democrat's $3.5 trillion budget package can’t include immigration reform.
“To really tell congress, senators and senate parliamentarian it’s vital they are (undocumented individuals ) protected from deportation and this is the year that they are serious about not going home empty-handed and it’s time that they finally act on immigration,” said Leydy Rangel, Communication Specialist at UFW Foundation.
“We have to remember this is not just another bill, this impacts families, impacts our economy, and impacts our communities.”
Maria labors long hours in the Idaho hop fields from where she issued this invite. "I want to invite our senator @SenatorRisch to work one day in the fields and experience for themselves what working day is in the farm workers life." #FarmWorkerLegalization NOW. #TakeOurJobs pic.twitter.com/hGTZvDD4kU— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) September 22, 2021
A video published by UFW on social media shows an Idaho farmworker inviting Senator Jim Risch to spend a day working on a hop field. The invitation is part of a broader campaign to promote immigration reform for undocumented farmworkers. Leydy hopes it would help senators recognized that farmwork is a professional job.
“Farmworkers launched a ‘Take Our job campaign’ where they are essentially telling all 100 senators to come and see at yourself what being a farmworker takes, what it takes to feed America, that comes as a response to immigration,” Rangel said. “Farmworkers want to be recognized for the important role they play in our communities, in our economy, and food supply.”
Santiago also hopes Congress will take action on a legal pathway to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers.
“We want to remind senators that every time they have an apple or vegetable to remember that it was the hands of farmworkers that last picked it. We are here and present and continue to be present until our voices are heard,” Santiago explained.
We reached out to Senator Jim Risch's office for comment about the UFW invitation and have not heard back. UFW said that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and DACA recipients also known as Dreamers attended the march as well. It’s expected that president Biden will update and publish a new federal regulation on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021, for the DACA program.
Beatrice Santiago, from Homedale and current senior at the University of Idaho traveled to D.C last week for the UFW's march to urge Congress to take action on a legal pathway to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers.— Ricardo Coronado (@rcoronadotv) September 27, 2021
Photos by: Beatrice Santiago pic.twitter.com/l8CUSnDv6O