Representative Salud Carbajal | Credit: Paul Wellman/S.B. Independent

Democrat Salud Carbajal, Santa Barbara’s representative in Congress, endorsed two pieces of immigration reform legislation Thursday. Carbajal endorsed the bills as co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition Task Force, a group of 94 Democrats who are committed to pro-economic growth, pro-innovation, and fiscally responsible policies.

Carbajal’s coalition endorsed the Dream and Promise Act, which will provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which will reform the immigration system by providing for earned legal status for existing farmworkers, modernizing the H-2A agricultural guest worker program, and creating a “first-of-its-kind, merit-based visa program specifically designed for the nation’s agricultural sector.”

“As someone who immigrated to this country as a young boy, this issue is very personal for me,” Carbajal said. “Dreamers are here to stay, and they deserve the same shot at the American Dream that I had.”

At the New Democrat Coalition press conference, Carbajal was joined by other members and immigrants who spoke to the importance of the bills. Reyna Montoya was an immigrant who fled violence in Tijuana as a child with her family. They moved to Arizona, and Montoya received her DACA status in May 2012, which allowed her to pass rigorous background checks and get legal permission to live, work, and contribute in the US.

However, there is still a need for legislation like the Dream and Promise Act. 

“However, DACA would also created the deep uncertainties of tomorrow,” Montoya said. “When I would have to wake up continuously at 5 a.m. in the morning and try to figure out if the courts were going to make a decision about my future and the future of thousands of Dreamers…. It is my plea today to be reminded that we are people. That we have lives and made the United States our home.”

Carbajal also served as one of nine bipartisan members of Congress who helped craft the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The agricultural industry is struggling amid a growing labor crisis that has been worsened by the pandemic. 

“My father was a farmworker, and I spent summers working with him in the fields, so I know firsthand how important the labor of those who harvest our food is to this nation,” Carbajal said. “Agriculture is the number one industry in my district, and I have heard countless times from producers about the devastating labor shortage that stems from our broken immigration system.”

To watch the full press conference, click here. 


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