Vicente's Testimony read before the House Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C (2020)
My name is Vicente Reyes. I’m a farmworker, a student, and a member of the UFW Foundation.
As a second-year student at Bakersfield College, I plan my school schedule around my work because I need the money to pay for my tuition, school supplies, and to help my parents pay the bills. My dream is to pursue a career in Robotics Engineering.
I have worked with them harvesting table-grapes, avocados, carrots, onions, tangerines, beets, kale, lettuce, and potatoes in Kern County, California.
My parents migrated from Mexico in 2005 when I was five years old.
In 2010, we moved to Bakersfield, CA, where we began to work in the fields for the first time in our lives.
I was only 12-years-old and freshly enrolled in 6th grade, when I first learned about the brutal work and personal sacrifice that farm labor requires.
Before I finished the 8th grade, I had spent several seasons harvesting onions. It was hard work.
The onion harvest is done kneeling, dragging our bodies on the ground in extremely hot weather and without shade.
If you’re wondering why farmworkers bring their children to work, for my family, it’s out of
My parents and I have not stopped working in the fields despite fearing deportation when we hear about ICE raids in agriculture.
When the pandemic started, we were unable to shelter-in-place because we were designated as essential critical infrastructure workers.
For my parents, it’s fear that compels them to wake us up every morning and hug us as if it could be our last day together.
At work, being an essential worker does not mean that we get more protections.
I certainly don’t feel like an essential employee.
If we get any information at all or masks to protect ourselves, it's through organizations like the UFW Foundation.
To feed the nation, we are exposed to extreme heat, pesticides, to the risk of getting COVID-19 and more recently, to wildfires and air that’s dangerous to breathe.
We are at the core of the food supply chain and we’re also its first responders when extreme weather threatens to devastate the harvest.
My family are among the 5.5 million essential workers, and the 11 million people who are undocumented and live with endless uncertainty about our future.
Without our labor, the food supply chain would collapse.
The country is relying on us.
Essential farmworkers and all immigrant workers deserve a path to legalization and citizenship that recognizes the essential contributions that we make to this nation.
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