During her remarks, Dr. Biden said that the president supported the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bill that would grant temporary legal status to seasonal farmworkers, many of whom are undocumented, and offer a 10-year path to citizenship.
“As president, Joe is fighting for people who often go unseen,” Dr. Biden said. “And that’s exactly the kind of immigration policy he’s working to build — one that treats children and families with dignity and creates fair pathways to citizenship, including for essential workers.”
Thousands of Central Valley farmworkers have been scheduled to receive the coronavirus vaccine at Forty Acres over six weekends in March and April. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, a Democrat, and his partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, joined the first lady on Wednesday at the site. Later, Dr. Biden handed out vaccination cards and “I got my Covid-19 vaccination” buttons to workers waiting to be immunized.
This year, California kicked off a landmark effort to get vaccines to farmworkers, many of whom are undocumented and whose working conditions in close quarters have left them particularly vulnerable to the virus. Researchers from Purdue University estimate that about 500,000 agricultural workers have tested positive for the virus, and at least 9,000 have died from it. The coronavirus has killed more than 551,000 people in the United States, according to a New York Times count.
Over President Biden’s first two months in office, union leaders have praised his administration as one of the most labor-friendly in modern history. One of his first official acts was to move a bust of Mr. Chávez into the Oval Office, a decision Dr. Biden pointed out to applause at the event on Wednesday. The first lady also frequently repeated the farmworkers’ union’s motto, “Sí, se puede,” or “Yes, we can,” several times during her speech.
“César dared to believe that our country could change — that we could change it,” she said. “Now, it’s on us to live up to that promise.”