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Coronavirus puts farmworkers at risk

New York Teacher

As the pandemic makes farmworkers more essential than ever, it also creates particular risks for this group. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates about 50% of the country’s farmworkers are undoc- umented, while advocacy groups say it’s closer to 75%. Undocumented immigrants do not qualify for federal coronavirus relief and are still subject to enforcement raids by the Trump administration, even as the White House has declared farmworkers to be essential workers during the crisis.

Farmworkers and their advocates also say many farms lack soap and protective equipment or are not maintaining social distancing practices.

United Farm Workers of America and Familias Unidas Por La Justicia AFL-CIO, both unions rep- resenting farmworkers, filed a lawsuit on April 16 against the state of Washington, saying the state hasn’t done enough to protect these workers from contracting COVID-19.

“We were feeling very desperate, very helpless, very disillusioned, because no one was supporting us or giving us anything to protect ourselves. No gloves, masks or disinfectant — nothing,” Maria, a worker at an orchard in Washington’s Yakima Valley, told CNN.

CNN, April 11 
Tri-City Herald, April 16