Our latest "Food for Thought" conversation - How Immigration Issues Are Affecting California's Food Supply - was a detailed, thoroughly honest, somewhat depressing conversation that also had some threads of hope.
With Washington D.C. now suing California over immigration law, this conversation will only continue. And there is a way you can keep this conversation going -- and make it more uplifting. Our panelists Bruce Rominger, Lety Valencia and Santana Diaz had these two suggestions about how Californians can help the "other" Californians we were discussing last night:
1) Support your local farmers: Buy as much local- and state-grown produce as possible, and fewer out-of-state and out-of-country crops. That keeps our CA farmers competitive with countries paying cheaper wages to workers overseas, and lets them hire the hands they need to grow and reap the crops -- especially labor-intensive crops like asparagus (which used to be a major crop here but rapidly disappearing) and strawberries.
2) Give money to a legal defense fund: Lety Valencia told us there are only 40 immigration lawyers currently working in the Central Valley (which has thousands of farmworkers who are undocumented), and not all of them take pro- or low-bono cases. That means many farmworkers needing help with their immigration status and citizenship are in limbo or leaving the state, because trying to navigate this legal system is tough enough when you're a legal resident.
Valencia's org, Faith in the Valley, started the Fresno Legal Defense Fund and when Fresno's City Council voted no on giving it public money, Faith raised seed funding from Sierra Health Foundation, Wells Fargo and the Latino Community Foundation. But you can help them fund more people's cases by donating to the Legal Defense Fund.
For more background on this important-and-still-trending topic, listen to the podcast (iTunes or Soundcloud) of our "Food for Thought" event on immigration turmoil in the Central Valley, the World's Salad Bowl
And other organizations you can help with their funding for immigration-specific legal aid are:
* California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation
* Immigrant Family Defense Fund
* Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services