Latinos play a critical role in the US farmworker industry, from advocating for better treatment of migrant workers to harvesting the produce that comes to our table every day. Our farmworkers are an underrepresented community and have faced all kinds of difficulties in their work, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even so, they continue to get ahead and take pride in their invaluable work.
Most farmworkers are immigrants
According to the 2018 National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS), 77% of farmworkers identify as Hispanic and approximately 61% are of Mexican descent.
About 2 out of 3 farmworkers are citizens or legal residents of the United States (MHP Salud). While these workers pay taxes and contribute to the economy, they are not protected by US labor laws and live under the threat of deportation and family separation every day, all while working in extremely difficult conditions.
The USDA estimates that 73% of today’s farmworkers were born outside the United States. Agricultural workers spend long hours harvesting crops in all types of weather while at risk of injury or illness from exposure to pesticides or heavy equipment. They have also faced record wildfires and heat waves. For decades, migrant farmworkers have helped feed the country, but the industry faces a chronic labor shortage that has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, further exposing the need to improve the conditions and rights of farmworkers and their families.
Legal status and visas
Modernizing the temporary visa program and establishing a path to citizenship for long-term undocumented farmworkers is urgently needed to protect them and their families, and ensure the future of the agricultural industry in the United States.
Some farmworkers are beneficiaries of immigrant worker or H-2A programs, which allow US agricultural employers to bring temporary foreign workers to the United States. However, the structure and implementation of H-2A programs can create a work environment with inadequate wages and working conditions that are not ideal. efficient.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that providing legal status to current undocumented workers would have a net positive effect on the federal budget, increasing tax revenue. The CBO also found that legalizing the undocumented population would boost economic output and increase employment for US-born workers.
Congress should permit undocumented farmworkers who are present in the United States to obtain legal status. This would allow farmers to legally maintain their current workforce while allowing undocumented immigrants to have freedom, earn a fair wage, be better protected from exploitation and abuse, and fully participate in the communities they have called home for years.
You can help our farmworkers
Participate, share information and donate to organizations that fight for farmworkers’ rights in the United States. These are some of them:
- United Farmworkers of America (UFW)
- Farmworker Justice
- La Via Campesina
- Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs
- Migrant Justice
- Student Action with Farmworkers
- American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
- Center for Good Food Purchasing
- Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)
- Community Alliance for Global Justice (CAGJ)
- Fairfood International
- Fair World Project (FWP)
- Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC)
- Food Chain Workers Alliance (FCWA)
- Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA)
- Oxfam International
- Solidarity Center
- Walk Free