Editor’s Note: Alejandra’s last name was kept anonymous because she is undocumented, and her interview was translated from Spanish to English.
RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) — Farmworker advocates are pressuring lawmakers to make a move on the Farmworker Modernization Act, which would streamline the process to citizenship for those working in agriculture.
“We want people like governor Greg Abbott, Ted Cruz, John Cornyn to realize when they’re talking about migrants and they’re trying to criminalize them—these are the very people that are putting food on their tables,” said Elizabeth Rodriguez, a farmworker advocate at La Union del Pueblo Entero.
Rodriguez says that this legislation could change the lives of over ten million essential workers in the United States.
“Which is going to allow over 11 million people that are living here in the United States working here as essential workers to be able to get a path to legalization,” said Rodriguez.
With citizenship, undocumented workers could have predictable pay and be protected from mistreatment.
Like Alejandra, who says she is undocumented and though the prices of the produce she picks has gone up, her pay rate has not, and now with rainfall, she is expected to work in flooded fields.
“Many times there are employers that ask us to work when there is a lot of water because I have to pick squash and the fields were filled with water,” said Alejandra.
KVEO spoke with Alejandra during the freeze and again now during the floods, and though the seasons change, her working conditions stay the same.
“We are not coming to do anything bad, just simply help us,” said Alejandra.
What many refer to as the “blue card,” Alejandra says could secure a better future for her family.
“It’s a better opportunity to find work, to be able to help my family, to be able to unite me with them who I haven’t seen in years, it would be a big blessing for me,” said Alejandra.
Rodriguez says this group of people continue to be the least protected group of essential workers but says she will continue to try to change that.
“To this day they’re the most valuable workers in this country because they do the jobs that nobody else wants to do,” said Rodriguez.