Fired farmworkers at Sumas farm: a onsite report

This afternoon I visited the home of Lucia and Joaquin Suarez near Sumas, on whose land are camped the farmworkers fired by Sarbanand Farms this week after they went on strike to call attention to working conditions after their co-worker Honesto Silva Ibarra died Sunday at Seattle's Harborview Hospital.

You may have already about this in today's Bellingham Herald.  My attention was alerted by a call yesterday from a priest colleague asking what I knew about this matter, and by reading today's articles in the Herald and also the Cascade Weekly.

I spoke for a few minutes onsite with Edgar from Community to Community Development of Bellingham, one of two organizations - the other being Familias Unidas por la Justicia - that are working directly as advocates with the fired farmworkers.

Edgar told me that as of this afternoon the farmworkers are still without pay and without funds to travel and concerned about the status of their work visas, which are specific to their employment at the farm near Sumas.

I was told that the primary need right now is for funds to help the farmworkers to travel from the area back to their countries of origin.

While I was onsite a van from La Iglesia de Resurrecion in Mt. Vernon showed up piloted by The Rev. Helen McPeak, accompanied by church members who brought some supplies and their proficiency with Spanish to seek information as to how we can help.

Donations may be made to Community to Community Development (www.foodjustice.org) designated for the Sumas Farmworkers.

I will pass on information as I find it out.

The Seattle Times had a reporter at the farm today, and I was told that CNN had also called.

Please pray for these farmworkers, so far from home and in such a difficult circumstance, and for their families back home, and for the talks involving the Labor Department and the State Department and the officials at the farm, that decisions be rendered that are just and compassionate.

This is also a situation in which it's appropriate to contact politicians to encourage them to seek a just and equitable solution to this crisis.