Letter to the Editor: We rely on farmworkers to grow our food. They should not live in fear of deportation.

MassLive, November 9, 2017, by Philip Korman of CISA

Over the last number of months, the Trump administration’s shift in federal policy towards undocumented residents has fostered terror throughout communities in the Valley. It has been reported that, on Tuesday, three farmworkers were detained by ICE on their way home to Springfield from work on a Hatfield farm. On Monday, two immigrants who work in a factory in Holyoke were detained by ICE. One of them, Anival Gomez, is an organizer with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center (click here to read about the PVWC’s response to these arrests).

Many farms in our region, as in much of the rest of the country, rely on foreign-born workers to plant, tend, and harvest their crops. Agriculture has relied on immigrant workers for decades, but Congress has failed to recognize the importance of these workers by creating options for legal status and citizenship.

These are our neighbors and friends, and they have come to the United States for the same reasons that have brought generations of immigrants from all over the world. Many of our forebears came to escape poverty, discrimination, or genocide, making the hard choice to leave their homes behind for themselves and their children. Today’s undocumented immigrants travel thousands of miles, risk the border crossing and undocumented life in the United States, and work demanding, low-wage jobs for many of the same reasons.

The truth is that many of the people who are in this country without documentation have been here for years and years, and they are part of our Valley community. Their children have grown up here, they attend church or temple, and they have taxes taken out of their paychecks. And every day of the year, we rely on many of them to work on farms to grow our food. They deserve our respect. They have a right to legal protections and a pathway to citizenship. And at the very least, we should not force them to live in daily fear of deportation and separation from their family members.

— Philip Korman, Executive Director of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)