I am sure we are all aware that the pandemic of COVID-19 has affected many throughout the world, but to focus specifically on how it has affected local migrant farm workers. Migrant farm workers have become our “essential workers” as they continue to harvest crops so that we have fresh groceries available to us. COVID-19 has made a drastic impact on these migrant farm workers and they can’t fight for what they deserve due to immigration status. They for a long time have suffered discrimination because they are “illegal” which has limited resources to help in their health and safety. In a country where freedom and rights are priority I feel we all deserve the same treatment no matter what race/ethnicity you are. They rely on day to day paychecks to support their families and many of these families have kids your age wanting an opportunity to be in your seat earning a degree. Farm workers are amongst the poorest workers in our country who risk their safety and health working in the field to earn a living wage. Not only are there adults, but kids as well who are risking their education to help contribute to the family’s earning. If you put into perspective how hard agricultural work is, hopefully you’d realize that without them who feed our country.
To start off with, these farm workers are migrating from all over Latin America in look of bettering their lives. Unfortunately because of their legal status, farm working is one of few occupations available to them. This job is covering just enough for what their expenses are and during this pandemic it has gotten worse. Many interviews have been made and one specifically, Los Angeles features a short film on YouTube, Farmworkers Face Coronavirus Risk (April 1, 2020), which informs viewers on how the county of Los Angeles has been emotionally and some physically affected by the virus. California has interviewed some agricultural workers on their experiences so far with the virus. It specifically talks about the orders of shelter-in-place for many Americans, however it exempts farmworkers. Because agricultural work is a season to season job, the shelter in place orders aren’t required for them because it is an “essential job”. Many of these workers are undocumented, lack health insurance and don’t qualify for unemployment insurance or federal COVID-19 relief making it harder to remain calm and complacent with what is going on. Here in California there are 420,000 farmworkers who are in vulnerable positions who are risking their lives for us.
“We are all worried because we have bills and we all have to pay everything.” This specific quote represents how these people are working paycheck to paycheck just to survive in this country. With a current pandemic it makes their situations even more difficult. They are putting themselves at risk of the virus each and every day. They have to work in teams and are always exposed to one another. Although certain measures of safety have been available it is still not 100% safe to work. I have seen effort in staggering the jobs throughout the day, but if you really think about it, for the amount of crops that need to be harvested in a day staggering will not give them enough time to complete their job. If they were already working at a fast pace this will slow them down and they won’t have the food ready for the sellers. It seems that this virus is affecting the whole chain of produce and consume. Given that majority if this community is undocumented, they lack resources to help them with healthcare and personal needs. They are not granted benefits like other jobs have with unions. However there are some nonprofit organizations who have advocates that are willing to work with the workers and find resources for them.
Statement on Farm Workers and COVID-19 (2020) has informed that many organizations have gotten together and have made relief packages to help these workers. Many of them are getting money together to help out with expenses, but mainly find resources that they can be available to in case one of them gets sick or needs to be tested. Some of these changes include paid sick leave, safety and health protections and any other resources they might need. It is these organizations priority to ensure a safe and healthy environment for these hard working men and women. We are aware of how this virus can affect an individual poorly and it is more beneficial as a nation to make their lives better. Improving working conditions will help them in the long run and will make their labor easier as they don’t need to worry about catching viruses. Many of the organizations introduced within the article are Farmworker Justice, United Farm Workers, Fair World Project and Alianza Nacional De Campesinas. All throughout the article there was relevant information and many details of which stood out, but this specific quote supported the idea of an “essential worker”. “Our agricultural system would collapse without farm workers, and as such they are deemed essential workers. But as farm workers continue to grow and harvest the food we all rely on, they are putting their lives at risk.” This again brings the idea back that without these people our country would not be available to fresh produce. The next time you eat a fruit or vegetable think of them because you will know it was handpicked by one of these people. Everytime you think your life is hard, think twice because you have been shown worse. Machines have taken over many jobs of people but know there will always be a need for farmworkers. Groceries will continue selling produce and so it does give them a job, but let’s improve their working spaces and secure them with resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Governor Newsom has stated he was going to dedicate a fund to agricultural farm workers, Governor Newsom Coronavirus Fund (April 15, 2020) which summarizes his action to save a fund for these workers. With this fund he is going to provide financial support to undocumented immigrants and refugees who have faced severe bdget lost because of the pandemic pause. $125 million dollars will be put aside to relieve some expenses. This fund is to take place of unemployment benefits they cannot receive because they are not citizens of the United States. Stated in the article approximately 150,000 immigrants will receive some cash. Unfortunately it isn’t going to be going to all of the undoucmented but this will help many. Of this money, 75 million is for disaster relief assistance and the rest will be given out to cover anything they need. I think as a governor he has done the right move in helping this community out. He is showing respect and acknowledgement that even during these times they too are affected. Although they may not be citizens by title and certificate, they are still a part of California and the United States as a whole. I know that there are other agricultural farm workers outside the United States but for us this is a big change.
Specifically in this article Newsom had stated, “California is the most diverse state in the nation. Our diversity makes us stronger and more resilient. Every Californian, including our undocumented neighbors and friends, should know that California is here to support them during this crisis. We are all in this together…” With just this quote he speaks for his nation and how these people do mean something in this world. In a country where freedom and rights are priority, we all deserve the same treatment no matter what race, ethnicity, and immigation status you may be. With this, he promotes awareness in creating a welcoming environment to these hard working people. They for once will be thanked for what they provide for us citizens. He doesn’t allow room for differences nor exceptions. He is relieving stress to these people as we can assume many would have because they stopped getting paid for a while. In this case it also was extra money they could use on paying some bills and even buying themselves a little more groceries.
From what has been mentioned, may these points cross your mind and have made you consider wanting to seek justice for migrant farmworkers. Recognize that they have become the essential workers of this country. COVID-19 should not be the reason you are now more concerned for them, but rather be the motivation to actually seek an end to discrimination and provide better working conditions, higher wages, and more available resources. Make a donation to a nonprofit to start a change in bettering the lives of these hardworking immigrants who just want a life like yours. And if a donation isn’t possible just simply take the time to think of them; they deserve many thanks. COVID-19 has sparked us all but by helping each other there will be success. Recognize those who need the help more and provide to them. If they can’t speak for themselves, let organizations or your own government/leaders inform the citizens that they too deserve freedom, healthcare, resources, and everything we have as citizens. If not completely than to a certain extent!