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Half Moon Bay farmworker advocate invited to State of the Union

By Daily Journal Staff

Published: February 3, 2023

Dr. Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga

Dr. Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, founder and executive director of Ayudando Latinos a Soñar, which has been front and center in supporting the farmworker families affected by the mass shooting Jan. 23, will attend President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address, Tuesday, Feb. 7.

The mass shooting of seven farmworkers in Half Moon Bay exposed their deplorable living conditions and low pay and Hernandez-Arriaga and her team have been providing critical services to the families of the victims.

“I am honored and thankful to Congresswoman Eshoo for this invitation to this historic occasion,” Hernandez-Arriaga said. “I look forward to hearing from President Biden on his vision for our country, and that must include a call to action to improve the lives of our farmworkers.”

Hernandez-Arriaga added this an opportunity for a national dialogue for how a farmworker with low wages, lack of mental health support and inhumane living conditions devolved to orchestrate a mass shooting.

“This attention is long overdue for a workforce that has operated in the shadows for generations,” she said.

Other notable invitees including Brandon Tsay, the hero from the Monterey Park mass shooting. She was invited by U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto.

Eshoo said it was an honor to host Hernandez-Arriaga.

“As the founder and executive director of the nonprofit ALAS since 2011, she's a cornerstone of the Half Moon Bay community and has been a leader in helping the families of the victims of the mass shooting,” Eshoo said. “I look forward to introducing Belinda to my colleagues and have Half Moon Bay represented in the chamber in a unique way."

Chunli Zhao, a 66-year-old Half Moon Bay farmworker, is accused of murdering seven in a killing spree on the afternoon of Jan. 23. Zhao is accused of entering Terra California Garden, formerly called Mountain Mushroom Farm, where he worked and shot four people. Terra California Garden is a little over a mile from Half Moon Bay High School. Zhao then drove to a nearby farm, Concord Farms, where he worked previously and killed three more people. He was arrested in the evening at a Half Moon Bay substation.


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