California Strawberry Commission Underscores the Valuable Role Immigrants Play in Economy and Communities throughout the State
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- California Strawberry farmers today praised Governor Brown and Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) today for their ongoing efforts to address the needs of the state's hardworking immigrant workforce, people who are essential to the success of the Golden State, according to the California Strawberry Commission.
"We greatly appreciate the energy and focus Governor Brown and Assemblyman Alejo continue to show in finding solutions to our broken immigration system," said Rick Olivares Tomlinson, president of the commission, which represents 400 family strawberry farmers. "In the absence of comprehensive federal immigration reform, they continue to champion the needs of hardworking people forced to choose between driving without a license or going to work."
Governor Jerry Brown hosted a news conference in Los Angeles today to sign Assembly Bill 60 (Alejo), allowing immigrants to obtain state drivers' licenses.
"We stand with Governor Brown and Mr. Alejo in advocating for a huge segment of the population integral to California's culture, economy and communities," said Tomlinson. "No other issue is more critical than continuing to put pressure on Congress to fix our broken immigration system."
"Immigration reform is of vital importance to U.S. and California agriculture and strawberry farming in particular," said Victor Ramirez, a second generation Mexican-American strawberry farmer and chairman of the commission.
"Strawberry farming has offered a path to the American Dream for countless hardworking immigrant families," said Ramirez. "About 65 percent of all strawberry farmers are Latino and 15 percent are Asian, with Laotians representing the latest wave of immigrants to become strawberry farmers."
He cited a number of examples about the role immigrants play in agriculture:
- Virtually all California farm employees who grow and harvest the fruits, nuts and vegetables that feed America are immigrants.
- Agriculture affords a path to opportunity and attaining the American Dream. For example, one in five strawberry farmers worked their way up from farm worker, to foreman to farm ownership.
- Agriculture and related businesses account for about $10 trillion annually to the American economy; employing just over one-sixth of the entire U.S. civilian labor force.
"Immigrants touch the lives of every American every day of the year – whether people are staying in a hotel, eating in a restaurant, or grocery shopping," Ramirez said. "None of this would be possible without the enormous contributions immigrants have made. They are essential and integral factors to the success of our state and nation."
According to Mr. Tomlinson, attending today's press conference is in keeping with the California Strawberry Commission's ongoing efforts to promote comprehensive immigration reform. In the past several months, the commission has galvanized community support and held community events along the Central Coast. The commission has also sent several delegations of farmers to Capitol Hill to educate members of Congress about the critical need for immigration reform.
About the California Strawberry Commission:
The California Strawberry Commission, www.calstrawberry.com, is a state government agency representing all of California's strawberry shippers, processors and farmers. With an emphasis on food safety education, Commission activities focus on production and nutrition research, trade relations, public policy, marketing and communications. California produces more than 85 percent of all strawberries grown in the United States.
SOURCE California Strawberry Commission