Farmworker Families and the H2A Dilemma
Today, National Public Radio (NPR) aired the investigative report, “Guest Workers, Legal Yet Not Quite Free, Pick Florida’s Oranges,” in its show, Morning Edition. This report is part of a larger series by NPR, focusing on our farmworker families and the work they do providing America with a safe and secure source of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Large agribusinesses and small family farmers alike are increasingly making use of the H2A guest worker program. For me, this development is unfortunate. We are a country made stronger, better, and richer by new immigrants. We are not a country of guest workers. This year, for the first time ever, farmworker parents were unable to travel to participate in ECMHSP Policy Council meetings for fear of losing their jobs to H2A guest workers. It should not be this way. Today’s NPR story is enlightening and I encourage you to give it a listen.
I also hope you didn’t miss the earlier stories completed by NPR in the fall of 2015. In September 2015, staff from the Field of Dreams Migrant Head Start Center operated by PathStone Corporation, a friend and delegate agency partner of ECMHSP, accompanied NPR reporter Dan Charles into the apple orchards of Adams County, Pennsylvania to interview migrant farmworker families. The investigative radio report, “Inside the Life of An Apple Picker,” was aired nationally late October and featured ECMHSP parent Jose Martinez and his family. In the story, Jose describes the challenges his family faces as they migrate from Florida to the apple harvest in Pennsylvania, and the stability ECMHSP has provided his children.
Just in time for the holidays, ECMHSP staff from the Faison and Fountain centers accompanied Dan Charles into North Carolina’s sweet potato harvest. The story, “Behind Your Holiday Sweet Potato Dish, Hard Work In The Fields,” was aired on national radio at the end of November and featured ECMHSP parents Nabor Segundo and his wife Rosalia Morales. Nabor invited listeners into his home, where he shared his family’s story, and into the fields as he performed the back-breaking work behind the Thanksgiving staple.
ECMHSP will continue to create media opportunities that will allow farmworker families to share their contributions to their communities, as well as the needs of their families across the East Coast.
A worker harvests grapefruit near Arcadia, Fla. Photo Credit: Dan Charles/NPR