Farmworker Justice Immigration Update: April 15, 2016

DAPA & the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in US v. Texas on Monday at 10:00am. The case will determine whether or not the Deferred Action for the Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program (DAPA) and the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (expanded DACA) will move forward.

The Supreme Court granted the parties extra time for oral arguments due to the complex nature of the case. The US Government will have 35 minutes for oral argument and MALDEF, which intervened in the case on behalf of parents who would qualify for DAPA, will have 10 minutes for oral argument. Texas will speak for 30 minutes on behalf of all of the states in the case and the US House of Representatives, which filed an amicus brief in support of the Texas, will have 15 minutes reserved for its oral argument. A decision by the Supreme Court is expected to be released by the end of June. If there is a 4-4 tie (a result which would mean the injunction stays in place), the decision may come out sooner rather than later. For an explanation of potential outcomes of the case, see our earlier blog.  For a substantive discussion of the issues in the case, visit Think Progress’s blog or Scotus blog. Also, check out the National Immigration Law Center’s graphic tool illustrating the diversity of the 1,094 individuals and organizations that have signed on to 19 different amicus briefs in support of the DAPA and DACA programs. Farmworker Justice signed on to the immigrants’ rights, civil rights and labor brief.

Immigrants’ rights, labor and other civil society groups will be rallying outside the Supreme Court in support of the DAPA and DACA programs on Monday. Other actions in support of the programs will be held around the country. For more information, visit  There are “unfreeze DAPA” sharables that you can add to your social media pages available here.

News on Farmworker Rights & Wages

As you’ve probably heard by now, the New York and California legislatures passed significant increases in their minimum wages. Many farmworkers in the United States are paid the minimum wage and therefore will benefit from these increases. Farmworker Justice applauds California’s and New York State’s actions and all of the workers and advocates who fought hard for the increases. However, we are somewhat disappointed with the shortcomings in the New York legislation which would provide a lower minimum wage for areas outside of New York city, including the many rural areas in which farmworkers live and work. While California’s new minimum wage will apply to farmworkers, farmworkers in California still do not have the right to overtime pay as other workers. The California Legislature should pass a bill that would give the same overtime pay to farmworkers that most other workers receive. Read Farmworker Justice’s full statement on the wage increases here

Also working to improve farmworker rights in California is Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), which has developed a farmworker bill of rights. Two women citrus and avocado growers in Ventura County, CA recently wrote an op-ed in the Ventura County Star expressing support for CAUSE’s farmworker bill of rights and farmworker workplace rights generally. The growers also called for immigration reform. 

Corporate Social Responsibility programs for farmworkers are also in the recent news. In California, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez visited Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce’s Crisalida Berry Farms to learn more about the Equitable Food Initiative. Farmworker Justice’s President Bruce Goldstein Joined Secretary Perez, Congresswoman Brownley, UFW President Arturo Rodriguez, and other members of the EFI for the visit. The Ventura County Star in California published an editorial praising the Equitable Food Initiative and a local berry grower for participating.

The Fair Foods Standards Council (FFSC), the organization that monitors the Fair Foods Program organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, released its 2015 annual report, showing that the Fair Foods Program is successfully growing. In addition to an overview of the implementation and audits of the Fair Foods Program, the report reflects the continued growth of the H-2A program, with the 2014 -15 growing season being the first year that growers in the Fair Foods Program used the H-2A program. The report also notes violations of H-2A program protections such as as workers charged illegal recruitment fees and failure to pay domestic workers in corresponding employment the proper wages. Most of the violations were resolved by the FFSC but, nonetheless highlight the pervasive nature of violations in the H-2A program.

Finally, a National Geographic food blog by Tracie McMillan points out that raising farmworker wages will have a minimal impact on consumers. The blog summarizes an analysis by agricultural labor economist and professor at UC-Davis Philip Martin predicting that if farmworker wages go up by 47%, household grocery bills would go up just $21.15 a year, or $1.76 a month. 

Farmworker Justice 35th Anniversary Award Reception

Like our update and the work we are doing? Please show your support by joining us on Tuesday, May 10 to celebrate our 35th anniversary serving the people who labor on farms and ranches to produce our food. Your support will enable Farmworker Justice to continue to meet the needs for our vital services and honor the deserving awardees. Tickets are available here.

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