250,000 Farmworkers Protected from Deportation by Obama’s Executive Order

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The United States became a more food secure nation last night after President Obama issued an order that would prevent deportation of up to five million immigrant workers—including at least 250,000 who are toil in the fields to feed us.

To borrow a slogan, if you eat, thank an undocumented worker. Approximately two thirds of the men and women who pick our produce, milk our cows, and slaughter our hogs lack documentation.

“The President’s action will allow at least 250,000 of America’s current professional farm workers who feed our nation to apply for temporary legal status and work permits.  Farm workers who have lived in the United States for five years and have children who are US citizens or Legal Permanent Residents, pass a criminal background check, pay all of their taxes, and pay a fee will be able to work and live in the United States without fear of deportation,” said United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez, in a press release.

As they bend over in the fields today, farmworkers will still face grueling toil, low pay, and the lack of many basic labor rights, but at least they no longer face the prospect of being summarily tossed out of an ingracious country.

It’s a fitting coincidence that Obama issued his order the day before the national release of Food Chains, a terrific documentary about farmworkers’ struggle against oppression that is destined to take it place along side Super Size Me and Food, Inc. as a game-changer for how this country views its food system.

Click here to see the Food Chains trailer and for theaters and show times.

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2 comments

  1. June Pagan says:

    We talk about sustainability. What about the sustainability of the hard working farm workers? This is very important information that needs to be “in the face” of all food consumers.

    Thank you!
    June

  2. Thanks, Barry. With more time to look at the program’s eligibility criteria and the numbers, we think there may be 450,000 farmworkers eligible for the program, not including an additional number of their spouses who are not farmworkers. Such numbers are at best rough estimates due to inadequate data. We wish the program was broader, and we wish Congress had passed progressive comprehensive immigration reform. But we will help farmworkers and their organizations as the new program is implemented.
    Bruce Goldstein, Farmworker Justice, Washington, D.C.

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