The Rapidian

"Sí Se Puede!" National and Local Leaders Call for Reform and Support for Michigan's Migrant Farmworkers

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

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Last week, iconic labor leader Dolores Huerta, Founder and President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, called for migrant workers to “be treated as essential workers and as essential to society.” Her comments at Migrant Legal Aid’s annual Harvest of Justice event also encouraged immigration reform, an end to systemic racism and steps to address climate change.

Migrant farmworkers are also heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve witnessed workers being crowded into bunkhouses and using their own bedsheets to create barriers to protect themselves” reported Teresa Hendricks, the executive director of Migrant Legal Aid. “Thanks to generous donations, we’ve distributed more than 5,000 pandemic kits to migrant workers in our area. There is still so much more to be done.”

Hendricks explained how the organization’s mission has adapted to the challenges facing the migrant community, including unsafe housing and hate crimes. “Workers often suffer in silence. They are afraid of retaliation against them and their families by their employers and are unlikely to seek help from authorities out of fear of being deported or worse.”

Migrant Legal Aid has become an important resource for leaders in Michigan’s justice system. In addition to educating law enforcement and judges, they work to guide workers’ cases through the courts to find the justice they deserve.

In response to the free online event, the organization has received numerous pledges of support to continue their mission. To learn more and contribute, please visit migrantlegalaid.org or call (616)454-5055.

Migrant Legal Aid would like to thank their title sponsor, Pitsch Companies, and the following sponsors for their generous support for this event:

· Betsy Hanisch

· Bolhouse, Hofstee & McClean PC

· City of Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission

· Donkey LLC

· Ed Koehn Automotive Group

· Grand River Bank

· Henn Lesperance PLC

· Kluczynski, Girtz & Vogelzang

· Latina Network of West Michigan

· Mercantile Bank

· Sonya Hernandez

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