DELANO, Calif. -- For the first time since her husband took office, First Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden visited Central California on Wednesday.
Dr. Biden arrived at Meadows Field Airport in Bakersfield on Wednesday afternoon.
Dr. Biden and Gov. Gavin Newsom arrived around 2:15 pm at The Forty Acres, which was created by Cesar Chavez and became the headquarters for the United Farmworkers of America.
The two started with a tour of the building where Chavez fasted for 25 days before they headed outside to speak to around 100 people, thanking farmworkers for their work throughout the pandemic.
Chavez's granddaughter is the director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, so she helped with the introductions.
It was a local United Farm Workers board member who teared up while introducing the first lady of the United States.
"Hey, we wouldn't have made it through this year," Dr. Biden said. "Even in our darkest times, we can, and we must find hope in each other. Today, the legacy of Cesar Chavez lives on in so many ways."
Dr. Biden discussed the president continuing to work on a plan to overhaul immigration policies, saying "He's working to build one that treats children and families with dignity and creates fair pathways to citizenship, including essential workers."
'It gives me hope'
From there, the First Lady went to a roundtable with several local farmworkers.
It was a rare opportunity for the undocumented farmworkers to share their stories and struggles.
They discussed the need for immigration reform, voting rights, and the importance of unionizing undocumented farmworkers.
It's a moment leaders with United Farm Workers are hopeful will influence change across the nation.
"To be sitting at a table with the First Lady, it gives them and gives me hope as the daughter of farmworkers, that hopefully there will be a path to citizenship," said Connie Perez-Andreesen, a UFW board member.
The First Lady assured farmworkers the White House is working on a solution.
Biden discussed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bill that's passed the House, that would grant undocumented workers visas and eventually residency.
Hernan Hernandez with the California Farmworkers Foundation said immigration reform is long overdue.
"I really hope that Jill Biden goes back to the White House and talks to Joe Biden so we can pass meaningful immigration reform," she said.
Perez-Andreesen with the UFW said many undocumented workers have been living in fear.
The pandemic has also left many without a job and no security during trying times.
Those who spoke to Biden expressed the need for a union.
Dr. Biden told them that she and the President are on their side, saying, "We are a union couple."
Following the roundtable, Dr. Biden visited the vaccination clinic that was set up by the United Farm Workers of America and the Kern County Latino COVID-19 task force.
There, Doctor Biden issued vaccination cards and handed out pins that say "I received the COVID 19 vaccine" to those who were vaccinated before she left for the day.
The vaccination clinic is continuing Wednesday night and they have already vaccinated around 1,100 people at this site.