Congressman Panetta to Host Farmworker at the State of the Union Address to Highlight Need for Immigration Reform and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act

February 2, 2020
Press Release

SALINAS, CA – Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) announced that he has invited Pablo Martinez, a former farmworker living and working on the central coast of California, as his guest to Tuesday’s State of the Union speech by President Donald Trump.

Pablo worked in the fields of Monterey County for 16 years alongside his parents, harvesting and cultivating grapes, lettuce, strawberries, broccoli, onion, garlic and tomatoes. Pablo attended the Hartnell Community College extension located in King City while working in the fields. He graduated in 2019 with his Associates Degree in Communications from Monterey Peninsula College.

As a farmworker and President of the Dreamers in Action Club at Monterey Peninsula College, Pablo deeply understands the impact that Congressman Panetta’s Farm Workforce Modernization Act would have on farmworker communities.

"For us as undocumented people, we deserve to have a path to citizenship because we work hard but at the same time we are in the shadows. We don’t have a voice, and we can’t participate in this country as any other community members do. It is important that we have some legalization for farmworkers," said Mr. Martinez. "Every strawberry you eat and every head of lettuce you buy was hand-picked by a farmworker. I want the President to recognize our contributions to this country and the important role we play in feeding America and the world."

"Pablo’s commitment to contribute to our community and country needs to be heard by those in Washington, D.C. and, especially, those in this administration," said Congressman Panetta.  "The central coast of California has deep and strong roots with people who come to this country and work in agriculture. The willingness of people to take risks to come here and work hard here has greatly contributed to the success of our sustained food production on American soil. Unfortunately, our current immigration system does not recognize those vital contributions to our economy and communities and has left many agriculture workers unprotected and unable to fully integrate into our society. The House passed my bipartisan legislation, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, on a strong bipartisan basis to protect our existing farmworkers and promote and enduring workforce. But now, we need action in the Senate, and ultimately, by the President, to get this done. I am proud to have Pablo as my guest at the State of the Union to show the administration and my colleagues in Congress why we must continue to fight to protect our agriculture and our farmworkers who have and will continue to contribute so much to our communities and country."