Sept 16, 2019  |  VIEW IN BROWSER


From the Desk of the Executive Director

Daniel Sheehan, AFOP Executive Director

September 12, 2019

The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs is gathering next week in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for its 2019 national conference.  Attending the meeting will be some 300 individuals who are committed to helping the nation’s migrant and seasonal farmworkers find stable, family-sustaining employment that will allow them to secure a future free of chronic unemployment, near-constant migration, poor school outcomes of their children, and lifelong health problems.  They are able to perform this service because the wisdom of Congress more than 50 years ago to make a federal commitment to giving these farmworkers a chance at job training and support services, and a shot at securing their own share of the American Dream.  Called the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP), it is an initiative that Republicans and Democrats, alike, have supported over the decades, because farmworkers, some of the hardest working people in our country, deserve a chance.  I welcome all attendees to beautiful and breezy Milwaukee, and urge others reading this to consider attending next year’s national conference, set for Litchfield Park, Arizona, just west of downtown Phoenix.  It should really be something. 
Speaking of Congress, lawmakers have returned from their August recess and are facing a very long to-do list before year-end.  Topping that list is the need to finalize FY20 appropriations before the fiscal year runs out September 30. The House has passed 10 of the 12 yearly appropriations bills, including the Labor-HHS measure that funds NFJP.  The Senate, though, has not formally moved on its bills.  AFOP had hope that appropriators in that chamber had an agreement in place to move the NFJP spending bill, but disagreements have caused the bill to be shelved, at least for now.  With only days before the end of fiscal year 2019, however, we expect lawmakers will soon pass a continuing resolution to extend spending at current levels, thus giving Congress more time to finish fiscal year 2020 spending.  It remains to be seen, however, if the White House will agree to what Congress produces. 
Also, earlier this month, the White House formally nominated longtime labor lawyer Eugene Scalia to be the new secretary of Labor.  Scalia is the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and served as the top legal officer in the Department of Labor during the George W. Bush administration and previously was a special assistant to Attorney General William Barr during his first stint as Attorney General under the George H. W. Bush administration.  Scalia has a career history of representing businesses in efforts to change labor regulations.  With labor unions generally opposed to his confirmation, many Democrats senators are also likely to oppose his nomination, although a Republican majority in the Senate means his confirmation is likely, barring tremendous controversy during the process.  His confirmation hearings may occur soon in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.


ORO Development Wins Grant

ORO Development Executive Director George Martinez recently informed the AFOP Executive Committee that his organization located in Oklahoma City was awarded this summer a grant by the United States Department of Education’s Office of Migration to provide services through the High School Equivalency Program (HEP).  The program helps migratory and seasonal farmworkers (or children of such workers) who are 16 years of age or older and not currently enrolled in school to obtain the equivalent of a high school diploma and, subsequently, to gain employment or begin postsecondary education or training.  The program serves approximately 5,000 students annually. Competitive awards are made for up to five years of funding.  Congratulations, ORO!

MET and NFJP: Making a Positive Difference in Real People’s Lives

By Kandace Bowman

Josephine Bradley worked for T&C Farm from June to October of 2017.  Her job duties were caring for and feeding horses, rabbits, chickens, and sheep.  In her short time there, she made $1,550, but it was a temporary job, and she needed something more consistent and long term for her family.  She and her husband have three boys, and they have also adopted her two great-nieces, so stability and a career path are very important to her.
Josephine enjoys helping the elderly and was excited when she discovered MET. The Learning Bridge Career Institute referred her to my office, and I worked with Josephine through the process of graduating and finding employment at South Lafourche Rehab Center in Cutoff, Louisiana.  Josephine sent my office a thank-you card immediately, thanking us for having such a big impact on her family, and that card is now hanging above my desk.
Josephine is making $10.25 an hour with her new job and was recently promoted to assist with transportation for her patient’s doctor appointments.  Her future goal is to become an LPN and continue progressing through the medical field.
It’s an honor to help someone like Josephine and watch her career progress because of MET.

 See another MET Success Story here

In case you missed August's blogs...

...which featured two guest blogs on farmworker training in Indiana and Nebraska, plus a couple engaging articles from AFOP Health & Safety staff, you can find them all again right here!
Click here to visit our blog!


Migrant Farmworker Children Struggle to Hold On

Children from Latino migrant farmworker families are some of the most educationally marginalized students in the United States.  With all the cards stacked against them, many end up having to repeat a grade, or drop out of school altogether.

Important Work, Important Training

I used my creaky Spanish to ensure I was in the right place.  “El entrenamiento es aquí?” I asked, stumbling a bit over the word “entrenamiento.”

Something Very Special

I have met a lot of people in my life, but there is something very special about this group of people...

After the Rains Settle

This year, the arrival of some of these delicious fruits and vegetables was delayed due to the amount and frequency of rain, which made planting extremely difficult, if not impossible, in some areas.  

Said a farmworker: "What can we do?  It's God's work.  We can't do anything.

It’s Still Hot Out There

Aqui y Ahora (Univision): The grave health consequences of heat exposure for workers
Help us Spread the Word!

Our familia looks up to us to keep our comunidad safe and healthy and a big part of that is getting involved in local elections to make sure we are represented in local decision making.
In 2017, only 16.4% of registered voters in Caldwell decided who would be our mayor.

Our local government regularly makes decisions on how money is spent on education, safety and other issues that directly impact our family, friends and neighbors. Your involvement can make a big difference for our community and for our children’s future.

Join the Community Council of Idaho and Conservation Voters for Idaho at the upcoming Community & Conversation: Our Voice Counts event. We will provide bilingual information about our local government, the upcoming November Caldwell election and why voting matters to our community.
Food and beverages will be provided.

Foundation Offers Grants of Potential Interest to AFOP Members

The Clif Bar Family Foundation is accepting proposals for its small grants program, which supports projects and provides general funding to organizations in five grant areas, including building stronger communities.  The other focus areas are environmental protection, nutrition, outdoor activities, and environmental health.  
The foundation lists a project that helps veterans find employment in agriculture as a featured grantee.  It has funded several projects that employ or involve young people in urban farms, as well as projects that help disadvantaged populations adopt bicycling as a mode of transportation. Nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply.  Applications are due Oct. 1.  See:

Inside DOL

Wages Increase

Average hourly earnings increased by 3.2% year-over-year in August, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the 13th straight month that wages have increased at or above 3%. Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers also had the largest monthly increase since the series began in 1964.

5.8 Million New Jobs

With 130,000 new jobs in August, more than 5.8 million new jobs have been created since January 2017 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training

John P. Pallasch was confirmed as the Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training on July 11, 2019 and was sworn in by Acting Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella on July 24, 2019.

Assistant Secretary Pallasch's appointment marks his return to the U.S. Department of Labor, where he previously served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). As Deputy Assistant Secretary, Pallasch was responsible for leading MSHA's operations, enforcement, regulations, and program evaluation.

Pallasch most recently served as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Department of Labor's Office of Employment and Training where he led initiatives to improve outcomes for workforce education programs, increase accountability and performance of the unemployment insurance program, and consolidate job training and workforce programs in a single cabinet agency.

An Illinois native, Pallasch earned a Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University and a Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University School of Law.

Disturbing H-2A Stories in the News

Missouri’s housing inspections for H-2A workers missed deficiencies for years

By Sky Chadde/For The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting & Missourian, August 22, 2019

A Crew of migrant farm workers picks cantaloupe on Thursday, July 4, 2019 north of Kennett, Missouri. Julia Hansen/Photographer

The lax inspection process led to an incident in summer 2018 where workers lived in a former jail, a motel with bed bugs and a house with a leaking toilet.
This is part two of a two-part story on migrant workers in Missouri. Read part one: These farmworkers were forced to labor on empty stomachs.

Missouri’s process of inspecting migrant farmworkers’ housing is riddled with holes and easily abused, according to interviews and documents. 
Last summer, the process led to an incident where more than a hundred farmworkers, in the U.S. legally on H-2A visas, were forced to live in horrid conditions, to work on empty stomachs and to endure threats. 

H-2A workers’ temporary legal status carries the promise of adequate housing, which the federal government leaves up to the states to ensure. But the inspection process, which all states are supposed to follow, doesn’t cover every place H-2A workers live; relies too much on the word of employers, who face little to no punishment for violations; and, in Missouri, has missed deficiencies for years that left workers in unsanitary housing.

The U.S. Department of Labor, which oversees the H-2A program, investigated the incident last summer in Kennett, Missouri, eventually suing the workers’ employer.

[Read More]
“Sometimes the manager was angry and didn’t give us water. (We) told him that there was no water — it seemed intentional,” said “Roberto,” an immigrant farm worker describing working conditions at a farm in Wisconsin. Roberto and 13 others were allegedly forced to work illegally at the farm. (Emily Shullaw for Wisconsin Watch)

Fainting and freezing in the fields: Alleged labor trafficking victim tells of mistreatment in Wisconsin, Georgia

In 2016, “Roberto” legally came to the United States for the same reason many immigrants do — to earn a living and a slice of the American dream. But Roberto, a native of southern Mexico, says he suffered a nightmare of coercion, financial exploitation, threats and mistreatment while working on a Georgia farm and, later, at cabbage patches in southeastern Wisconsin.

Roberto arrived in the United States legally under an H-2A visa, which allows seasonal farm laborers to work for specific employers. Roberto says he was forced to pay a fee and turn over the deed to his parents’ property to an intermediary in Mexico as security for his continued work in the United States. 

When Roberto arrived in Georgia, the situation was not at all what the recruiter had described. There were hundreds of workers — all men, all from Mexico — living together in cramped barracks and isolated from nearby towns, he said. 

“The same day you arrive, that same day they ask you for your passport. They take all of your personal documents,” Roberto said of the contractors, who hired out workers to farms growing squash, cucumbers and cilantro in southern Georgia.

 [Read More]

Trump Administration Proposes Major Changes to H-2A Agricultural Guestworker Program:  Comments Due September 24

By Farmworker Justice

On July 26, the Department of Labor (DOL) published proposed changes to the H-2A temporary foreign agricultural worker program regulations in the Federal Register. Interested parties may submit comments to the proposal through September 24. The DOL proposes many changes to the H-2A program, including a new calculation for wage rates, shifting some transportation costs to workers, expanding the program to pine straw and reforestation workers, weakening recruitment requirements for U.S. workers and allowing for employer applications with staggered entry dates for guestworkers, among others. The Farmworker Justice summary of the major proposed changes is available on our website. FJ has drafted model comments that farmworker, immigration, labor, social justice and other organizations can use in drafting their own comments. FJ is also currently working with partner organizations to draft a lengthier set of in-depth comments.

DOJ and DOL Formalize New Partnership to Protect U.S. Workers in H-2A Visa Program

By Farmworker Justice

On July 31, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Labor (DOL) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to better protect U.S. workers from discrimination under the H-2A program. The MOU increases communication and training opportunities between the two agencies to decrease discrimination against U.S. workers. This MOU is part of the Civil Rights Division’s “Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative,” which was launched in 2017 and is aimed at targeting, investigating, and taking enforcement measures against companies that discriminate against U.S. workers in favor of foreign visa workers.

CEA Training Report: Very Wide of the Mark

By Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution,

The White House Council of Economic Advisers has issued a report that claims to assess the available evidence on government employment and training programs. Former NSC board member Harry Holzer explains why the document is highly flawed.


Watchdog: Migrant children separated from families experienced intense trauma

By Renuka Rayasam

Migrant children in government custody who were separated from their parents experienced intense trauma that shelters were unprepared to handle, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general.

 [Read More]

How ICE Impacts Schools-Government Cooperation on Immigration Enforcement  Means Fewer Hispanic Students

(Courtesy of Lauren Camera, U.S. News and World Report)

More than 300,000 Hispanic students have been displaced from K-12 schools in communities where local police have forged partnerships with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to better enforce immigration laws, according to a new study from researchers at Stanford University.

Immigrant Rights

Regardless of your immigration status, you have guaranteed rights under the Constitution. Learn more here about your rights as an immigrant, and how to express them.

 [Read More]

DETAINED or DEPORTED: What about my children?

What to do if you can’t be with them

If you are in immigration detention or are facing deportation, you may have a lot of questions about what will happen to your children. It is normal to be worried and feel overwhelmed. But there are things you can do to help ensure that you do not lose your rights as a parent because you are detained or deported.

 [Read More]

Me han DETENIDO o DEPORTADO: ¿Qué pasará con mis hijos o hijas?

¿Qué hacer cuando no puedes reunirte con tus hijos o hijas menores de edad?

Si el departamento de inmigración le detiene o se enfrenta a una deportación, tendrá muchas preguntas acerca de lo que pueda pasar con sus hijos o hijas. Es normal sentir preocupación. Al enfrentarse a una detención o deportación, usted debe saber qué hacer para no perder sus derechos de padre o madre.

 [Lee mas]


A new report co-written by NSC staff offers innovative strategies to address disparities and equip low-income individuals with the skills needed to succeed in today’s changing workforce

McKinsey: The future of Work in America: People and Places, Today and Tomorrow

The labor market could become even more polarized. Workers with a high school degree or less are four times as likely as those with a bachelor’s degree to be displaced by automation. Reflecting more limited access to education, Hispanic workers are most at risk of displacement, followed by African Americans. Jobs held by nearly 15 million workers ages 18–34 may be automated, so young people will need new career paths to gain an initial foothold in the working world. Roughly 11.5 million workers over age 50 could also be displaced and face the challenge of making late-career moves. The hollowing out of middlewage work could continue.

 [Read More]

Georgetown University Center of Education and Workforce: Three Educational Pathways to Good Jobs

In the post-World War II period, workers with a high school diploma or less were able to attain jobs with middle-class wages in American industry. Good jobs were available in manufacturing and other blue-collar industries that employed large numbers of high schooleducated workers. But as automation, globalization, and related phenomena have led to major structural changes in the American economy, economic opportunity has shifted toward more educated workers with higher skill levels. Whereas two out of three entry-level jobs in the industrial economy demanded a high school diploma or less, now two out of three jobs demand at least some education or training beyond high school.

 [Read More]

Critics fear widespread damage from Trump ‘public charge’ rule

The Hill, August 24, 2019

The Trump administration’s public charge rule, set to take effect October 15, has health and immigration experts warning of the chilling effect the rule will have on people who aren’t directly affected, and could discourage permanent residents and U.S. citizens from applying, or renewing, benefits they are entitled to. “This rule will force hundreds of thousands of immigrants to choose between forgoing basic assistance for food, shelter, and health care or risk being separated from their families,” said Bobby Scott, Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee.

 [Read More]

Health, immigration officials worry Trump Administration’s public charge changes could deter immigrants from accessing eligible benefits

Post Independent, August 27, 2019

Health care advocates and immigration attorneys in Colorado say the Trump administration’s public charge rule is continuing to create fear and confusion among local immigrant communities. The rule, which expands the definition of “public charge” to include SNAP, among other programs, could impact 393,000 people in Colorado, including 161,000 children, according to the Protecting Immigrant Families, Advancing Our Future campaign. “It is called the chilling effect where people are pulling out of benefits that they might be eligible for, or that their children are eligible for,” said Danyelle Rigli, advocacy coordinator for Mountain Family Health Centers. “Clinics and doctors’ offices are seeing bigger no-show rates because of this.”

 [Read More]

Here’s who could lose food stamps under Trump’s proposed changes

PBS, September 5, 2019

According to an analysis by Mathematica, and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 9 percent of SNAP households nationwide would no longer qualify for benefits under USDA’s proposed rule. In addition, Delaware, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin could see benefits cancelled for 15 percent or more of their SNAP recipients. “It’s a large portion of the SNAP population that will lose benefits,” said Sara Lauffer, lead Mathematica researcher on the project.

 [Read More]

What We’re Reading

The Shocking Paper Predicting the End of Democracy

By Rick Shenkman

Everything was unfolding as it usually does. The academics who gathered in Lisbon this summer for the International Society of Political Psychologists’ annual meeting had been politely listening for four days, nodding along as their peers took to the podium and delivered papers on everything from the explosion in conspiracy theories to the rise of authoritarianism.

 [Read More]

Low-Income People Need Better Participation and Representation in the Political Process. Advocates Can Help Make That Possible

FRAC Chat, August 6, 2019

August 6 marks the anniversary of the enactment of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a triumph of the Civil Rights era that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. Now in its 54th year, the efficacy of the Act is in peril.

 [Read More]

Oregon Woman Turns School Buses Into Tiny Homes for Working Homeless Families

Julie Akins, a freelance journalist based in Ashland, Oregon, began a life-changing road trip in August 2016. Off and on over the course of the next two years, she pitched her tent and lived among homeless people from Portland to Denver. Fascinated by the working homeless, Akins asked what they needed to get off the streets as she chronicled their stories for the book she’s writing, One Paycheck Away. Then Akins noticed families living in school buses. Curious, she knocked on the door of an old

 [Read More]
The AFOP Washington Newsline (ISSN# 1056-8565) is produced by the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP), a national federation of agencies serving migrant and seasonal farmworkers. AFOP’s mission is to improve the quality of life for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families by providing advocacy for the member organizations that serve them.

The publication is funded by subscriptions and the members of AFOP. The Washington Newsline receives no financial support from the federal government. Staff may be reached by calling (202) 384-1754.
Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs

1120 20th Street, N.W. |  Suite 300 South
Washington, D.C. 20036

Phone: (202) 384-1754

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