August 1, 2013: As Members of Congress head home for the August recess, United Farm Workers, United We Dream and America’s Voice sent all 224 of them off on today, with a sweet US-American-grown cantaloupe, harvested by immigrants in California, showcasing the real contributions immigrants make to the United States every day. Just as House leadership gave Steve King a vote on his deportation amendment, pro-immigration groups are demanding their vote on a path to citizenship.
Rather than developing “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling seventy-five pounds of marijuana across the desert,” as Rep. Steve King (R-IA) recently asserted, immigrants are actually doing back-breaking work on our nation’s farms to bring cantaloupes and other crops to America’s grocery stores and breakfast tables every day.
The cantaloupes—affixed with the message: “This cantaloupe was picked by immigrants in California” and “You gave Steve King a vote. Give us a vote for citizenship,” are being delivered to each Member of the U.S. House who sided with Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on a recent immigration vote to end the Deferred Action program for DREAMers and other uses of prosecutorial discretion in deportation cases. In total, 224 House members voted yes on the King amendment, including 221 Republicans and 3 Democrats. Only six Republicans voted against the amendment.
“According to Rep. Steve King, most young immigrants are drug runners with calves the size of cantaloupes as proof. Today we deliver these cantaloupes from California as proof of the hard work of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who labor often under harsh weather conditions harvesting the fruits and vegetables that feed our nation. Agriculture in the United States is dependent on a hard working, dedicated, tax-paying immigrant work force. King's hateful comments are just another example of his failure to understand the reality of the agricultural industry and the great contributions immigrants make to this country," said Giev Kashkooli, United Farm Workers National Vice President.
There are approximately two million women, men, and children who labor on our nation’s farms and ranches across America, harvesting fruits and vegetables and caring for our livestock. Three-quarters of all farm workers were born outside this country.
"Unfortunately, Rep. King's words are not just words. His sentiments and prejudice against a significant segment of our society are reflected in his policy proposals which have been supported by almost every Republican in the House," Kashkooli said. Speaker Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy voted for the "King Amendment.
As the leader of the faction of House Republicans who oppose any form of comprehensive immigration reform, Rep. Steve King has made numerous degrading comments about immigrants over the years. After making his outrageous statement equating DREAMers with drugrunners earlier this month, King refused to back down. Although some House Republicans, including members of leadership, have finally started to denounce King’s hateful rhetoric, they continue to support his anti-immigration amendments.
“America knows that as DREAMers, we're the future of this nation. Our families came to pursue the American dream. Congressman King's remarks have no place in the immigration debate. It's time for Speaker Boehner to start showing some real leadership, giving immigration reform with a path to legal status and citizenship a vote and refusing to let Steve King dictate immigration policy for the GOP,” said Hareth Andrade, a leader with DREAMers of Virginia and United We Dream.
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice: “Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy say that King doesn’t represent the Republican Party, but it certainly looks like he does. Over 200 Republicans—including those members of leadership—voted with King on his recent amendment to strip DREAMers of work permits and separate hard-working families. It’s not enough to oppose his rhetoric while supporting the same policies. It's not enough to talk the talk if you don't walk the walk. That means tackling our key priority head on and advancing a path to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans. Citizenship could pass the House today with bipartisan support, and the only thing standing in the way is House Leadership having the guts to schedule a vote.”
The Senate proposal, which was overwhelmingly approved in the Senate last June, includes a roadmap to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the country and includes special agricultural provisions negotiated by the United Farm Workers and major grower associations. House Republican leadership hold the keys to making immigration reform a reality this year--but first they have to schedule the vote.