SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — More than 150 farm workers and their supporters rallied Sunday to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policies, as well as to remind others of the contributions immigrants make to the community and economy.
“Each American, including me, are beneficiaries of the work that you do,” Victoria Ruddy, Pacific Northwest coordinator of the United Farm Workers of America, told the crowd assembled at Central Park.
“When I put food on the table for my family, it does not come from the store. It comes from the hands of a farm worker.”
Sunday’s rally, which included a march through downtown Sunnyside, was one of 11 that the organization was sponsoring this weekend, primarily in rural pro-Trump communities in California, Texas, Oregon and Washington. The rallies coincided with the March 31 birthday of UFWA founder Cesar Chavez and targeted President Donald Trump and his immigration policies.
Trump has called for constructing a wall along the Mexican border, as well as ordered crackdowns on undocumented workers and withdrawing federal funds from “sanctuary” cities that do not cooperate with federal officials in enforcing immigration laws.
Many of those at the rally held signs that said “We feed you,” “Protect our families” and “With unity, we are strong” and waved UFWA flags.
Speakers also led the audience in chants of the UFWA’s motto, Sí, se puede — Yes, you can.
Dulce Gutierrez, a member of the Washington State Labor Council, said the area’s farm workers need to maintain a united front and work to roll back the policies.
“There’s only one Donald Trump, but there are many more of us,” said Gutierrez, who is also a member of the Yakima City Council. She stressed that she was there in her union role and not as a city official.
As a councilwoman, Gutierrez has cosponsored an ordinance that would bar the police from asking about people’s immigration status, but not preclude officers from cooperating with immigration officials if required by federal law.
Among those marching was Ignacio Resendez, retired director of the Migrant Education Program in Sunnyside. Resendez marched with Chavez from Granger to Toppenish in the 1960s, and he characterized the situation today as more dangerous than before.
“(Trump’s) not a president,” Resendez said. “He’s going to cause a lot of problems.”
Bengie Aguilar, a former Sunnyside city councilwoman who now works in the migrant education program, said Congress should be concentrating on a comprehensive immigration reform plan that gives the people in the country now a way to stay and continue contributing.
This story has been updated to correct when Ignacio Resendez marched with Cesar Chavez.