Remember how I said that I didn’t think that Edward Kennedy has as deep of a connection to migrant workers as his brother? Turns out I was wrong. Via the UFW blog:
Since Sen. Edward M. Kennedy championed the cause of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement after picking up the mantle from Sen. Robert F. Kennedy following his assassination in 1968, no national political leader has more effectively and selflessly embraced the farm workers’ cause.
Year after year, Sen. Kennedy stood shoulder to shoulder with the farm workers in good times and bad during marches and rallies, political campaigns and legislative battles from the halls of the United States Senate to the dusty farm fields of California.
As United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta once said, Robert and Ted Kennedy “didn’t come to us and tell us what was good for us. All they said was, ‘What do you want? And how can I help?’ That’s why we love them.”
With his impressive record on healthcare reform, it’s easy to forget that Kennedy cut his teeth first on immigration. He began his first race for the Senate with a call for immigration reform in 1962 and has been fighting for a more inclusive America ever since. Senator Kennedy fashioned our modern-day legal system of immigration. He created humane refugee and asylum policies. And he set the stage for a 21st century solution to the problem of illegal immigration. These are no small feats.
With his 1965 immigration legislation, Senator Kennedy made sure families were reunited without regard to race, religion, or national origin. With his 1980 Refugee Act, he made sure refugees were protected– whether stranded in overseas camps, or seeking asylum on our shores. In recent years, Sen. Kennedy has fought tirelessly for the kind of comprehensive immigration reform that would extend rights and responsibilities to the 12 million immigrant workers and family members living in our nation without legal protection.