What Life Is Like as a Farmworker in the Trump Era

Photo courtesy of United Farm Workers Foundation

When Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted a massive raid in O’Neill, Nebraska in August 2018, it made undocumented immigrants afraid to leave their homes. When the agency conducted a sweep in California’s Central Valley in February 2018, it arrested 232 people, including those who had never been a target for deportation. Since Donald Trump entered office in 2017, he has used immigration laws to break up families, drive fear into communities, and criminalize those just trying to support their families.

Undocumented immigrants are the backbone of the agriculture industry, but despite their very important contributions to this country, they have faced increased persecution under Trump.

It’s a scary time for this community, but despite that, many have bravely spoken up against Trump’s policies and offered up stories that reflect their realities. The United Farm Workers Foundation collected stories and photos of undocumented workers, who spoke about the issues that affect them – raids, the need for healthcare, and the arduous work. Check out their accounts below.

Photo by Avichai Morag /Moment
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“These are the jobs that the new administration accuses us of stealing from anglos. Honestly, I have never seen a single anglo-saxon in orange, pistachio, or mandarin [groves], and certainly not in the grape vineyards. We aren’t rateros. We aren’t rapists. We aren’t narcos, nor kidnappers, nor animals, nor anything else that the Trump Administration has said.”

-Araceli Ocampo Correa

Photo courtesy of United Farm Workers Foundation
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“Working in the fields isn’t an easy job. Many people pass by field workers who are doing backbreaking work and continue with their day. Little do they know, those farm workers use their hands to feed this entire nation. People don’t know the struggles farmworkers go through. They deal with stress, burnout and limited opportunities. On top of that, they deal with pesticides. They are not protected from pesticide exposure. It’s harmful and yet nothing has been done to protect our farmworkers that contribute to the United States tremendously. Without our farmworkers, there would be no food. We must help protect those who are unprotected.

There are many obstacles and fears that run through the mind of an undocumented person on a daily basis. It can range from seeing a family member taken away, to hearing ICE pounding at the front door. The fear, of being deported – from a place they call home, a place where they thought they’d achieve their American Dream. Living life as an undocumented immigrant is challenging, dark and scary. Yet, they choose to stay because they are willing to risk everything today for a brighter tomorrow.” -Judith

Photo by Barbara Rich / Moment
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“The flip side of a beautiful photo [like this] denotes the history of hundreds of migrants who are in the struggle daily. This beauty reflects their efforts, suffering, and struggle.” -Betty

Photo by Maria Casillas, Courtesy of United Farm Workers Foundation
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“Santos Hilario García was a great colleague, and in the little time I knew him, I saw how his happiness and big heart were contagious. He always spoke about his children, and the fear he had about who would look after his children if something were to happen to him and his wife. His great fear became a reality and his six children ended up orphaned after he and his wife became victims of ICE in Delano, California.” -Maria Casillas

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“Anguish, sadness, and pain. Not just because of illnesses, but also because of the worry of lack of medical services. I’ve seen the needs of the elderly, of children that need medical treatment, and with the change of health regimes, people are lacking many medical necessities. It’s important to show these problems. And I say problem because a country at this level should not have these needs for any of its people.

The United States is the only first world country that is suffering because of inadequate health insurance. Pharmaceutical companies control the costs of medicine. People don’t have the money to pay those high prices, and the government doesn’t do anything. Unfortunately, this most affects low-income people.” -Matilde Cervantes