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Immigrant Workforce Growing in Wisconsin Dairy Farms

Plus: Poultry plants endangering immigrant workers, states extending health care to immigrants, asylum appointments canceled

Deanna Garcia

Jul 26, 2021

Haitian and Mexican immigrants work long days on this farm in Upstate, NY. Long sleeves, hats, and scarves protect them from the dangers of the sun, pesticides and bugs. Photo: Arleen Thaler, 2018

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Maribel Lobato and her husband Santos Tinoco have owned Veracruz Mexican market in Monroe, Wisconsin, for 13 years. The pair often contract a handful of Latinos who immigrate to Monroe, which is 95 percent white, to work on dairy farms in the area. As one of just a few Latinos in the area, Lobato said she would offer them donated furniture, clothes and ways to connect with home. Small dairy farms in the state are closing as large farms take their place, and with them comes a need for a larger workforce. According to UMOS, immigrant workers make up about 40 percent of Wisconsin’s dairy farm workforce and 90 percent of them being undocumented. The Guardian 

In other national immigration news…

Immigrant Workers Endangered By Hiring Practices at Poultry Plants

Mariaisela Martínez, an immigrant, was hired by a North Carolina staffing services company to work as a housekeeper at poultry processing plant Mountaire Farms. She took the job for a stable paycheck, yet felt she was treated differently than Mountaire direct hires. Throughout the U.S., poultry companies have relied on staffing agencies for assistance during the pandemic. According to Migrant Policy Institute, 40 percent of meat processing workers are foreign-born and worked in COVID-19 hotspots in North Carolina. Even before COVID-19, a 2012 study discovered Latinx workers in the state’s poultry industry may experience decreased lung function because of high levels of exposure from cleaning agents, bacteria and dust while working. Scalawag Magazine 

States Expanding Health Care for Older Immigrants

Democratic-run states across the U.S. have started extended health insurance coverage to older undocumented immigrants. Illinois, which was the first state to provide a Medicaid-like program for older immigrants last year, utilized its new budget to expand the program. California jumped on the bandwagon and included coverage for those 50 and older in its latest budget. Oregon’s governor signed a plan offering benefits to low-income immigrants over 19. And New York advocates are fighting to do similar plans. Supporters say the movement is crucial during this pandemic since it has left immigrants, especially essential workers, more vulnerable. The Associated Press 

Border Officials Cancel Entry Appointments for Asylum Seekers

San Diego Customs and Border Protection officials are canceling appointments for vulnerable asylum seekers to cross into the U.S. and seek protections. The last minute change is causing migrants, who already had appointments scheduled to enter the U.S. this week, to rush to find new housing in Tijuana. CBP officials blamed the sudden cancellations on capacity issues at the San Ysdiro Port of Entry after last weekend. According to a CBP official, the agency hoped to continue appointments by Thursday, but some migrants who were scheduled over the weekend said their appointments were canceled. The San Diego Union-Tribune 

Family Reunited with Father After Over Two Years

Miguel Angel Valdivia-Vera was reunited with his family in West Virginia last week after over two years in Mexico. He came to the U.S. when he was 15 years old with his father, who went back to Mexico shortly after. In 2007, Valdivia-Vera forged a green card to work at Mayfair Farm. Three years later, Beth Nowak, the farm’s owner found out and decided to help Valdivia-Vera become a U.S. citizen since he was one of her best workers. He began the process of obtaining a green card in 2014, but in 2016 he was charged for driving under the influence while getting his child medicine. Someone informed Immigration and Customs Enforcement about Valdivia-Vera’s undocumented status, leading to his deportation. The Winchester Star



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