Preventing sexual harassment and violence

Breaking the Silence

Rompiendo el Silencio


About the film

Breaking the Silence (Rompiendo el Silencio) is a powerful training film created to help farmworker organizations reduce sexual harassment and violence on the nation’s farms. To reach the diverse farmworker community, the film is available in Spanish, Spanish with English subtitles, and Mixteco. Breaking the Silence was produced by Farmworker Justice in collaboration with Líderes Campesinas, a network of women farmworker leaders based in California that is also active at the national level. Breaking the Silence was directed by Bel Hernandez. The actors are actual farmworkers.

The film is part of an initiative that will build capacity and educate farmworker community members on how to prevent and address sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. This 8-minute video realistically portrays a sexual assault against a woman farmworker on a California farm and the dynamics that facilitate supervisors preying on vulnerable farmworkers. It goes on to show women responding and gaining knowledge and resources to help victims and to reduce rape and harassment in the fields.



The capacity-building initiative will employ a community mobilization model with the film as its foundation, in which a diverse sector of the community will share knowledge and access to existing resources, identify needs, and strategize on how their community can best fill those needs and sustain their efforts. The project will be developed with consistent community involvement, including and at the heart, farmworker women. Groups of outreach workers or promotores de salud (community health workers) will be trained in the topic of sexual violence. They will be deployed into their communities to conduct educational sessions using a toolkit to be developed by Farmworker Justice and Líderes Campesinas. The videos will be an important component of the toolkit, deepened by discussion guides (English; Spanish) and a fotonovela (English; Spanish) created for community distribution. Farmworker Justice is seeking financial support for this valuable collaboration with Lideres Campesinas.


Please note: The videos and other materials on this page contain references and/or depictions of sexual harassment and violence that may be distressing to some viewers. If you are a victim or survivor of sexual harassment or violence and need help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233. Their highly-trained advocates are available 24 hours a day every day of the year to assist you confidentially in English or Spanish.

Advertencia: Los vídeos y otros materiales en esta página contienen escenas y referencias al acoso y la violencia sexual que pueden ser perturbadoras para algunos usuarios. Si usted es víctima o sobreviviente de acoso o violencia sexual y necesita ayuda, por favor llame a la Línea Nacional Contra la Violencia Doméstica (National Domestic Violence Hotline) al 1-800-799-7233. Sus asesores altamente entrenados están disponibles las 24 horas del día todos los días del año para atenderle confidencialmente en inglés o español.


Breaking the Silence (Film; 8 mins.)


Spanish with English Subtitles




Breaking the Silence Film Trailer (2-3 mins.)

 Spanish with English Subtitles




Discussion guide









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Farmworker Justice is collaborating with farmworker-serving organizations and many other organizations to help farmworker families confront the very serious challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Farmworkers are considered “essential workers,” risking their health to ensure that we have access to fruits and vegetables. Farmworkers face numerous challenges to protect themselves and their family members from COVID-19 due to their working and living conditions. FJ and our partners developed policy recommendations that we shared with Congress and the Administration to ensure farmworkers are able to adequately protect themselves in the fields and at home. FJ will continue to monitor developments.

FJ has also coordinated the distribution of face masks to farmworkers. Learn more about these efforts.

A compilation of COVID-19 resources is below.


General resources



Resources for workers


Spanish             Ixil                   Kaqchikel

K’iche´              Mam               Q’anjob’al

Q’eqchi            Tz’utujil 

    • – A coalition of Latino identified and/or serving community-based organizations across the United States participating in a collective effort to inform and educate their local Latino communities on COVID-19.​


Resources for farmworker-serving organizations




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New Jersey


New Mexico


New York


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Farmworker Justice Policy Recommendations

► Visit our Resource Center for more resources on farmworker health

Farmworker Living and Working Conditions

Substandard housing, inadequate waste and garbage disposal, dietary and environmental exposures to lead, industrial pollution of air and water, and the widespread use of agricultural pesticides are a few examples of hazards that pose serious, preventable health risks to farmworker families.

Poor migrant housing conditions negatively impact the health of farmworkers and their children. Health consequences associated with substandard and crowded farmworker housing include respiratory illnesses, ear infections, diarrhea, and higher occurrences of lead poisoning. Farmworkers and their families also come into contact with pesticides in a variety of ways. Children may receive immediate direct dermal exposure from being in the fields and pesticides can drift into their yards, homes, schools and daycare centers when located near fields. Farmworker parents can also bring pesticides into the home on their tools, clothes, shoes, and skin.

Farmworker Justice has developed a curriculum and outreach materials for promotores de salud to bring environmental health education to farmworker communities. These materials aim to alert the community to practical ways in which they can reduce or eliminate their exposures to environmental health hazards, including residential pesticide exposure and lead poisoning. 

Visit our Resource Center to see our materials on these topics. 



Occupational and Environmental Health

Agriculture consistently ranks as one of the most hazardous occupations in the nation. Farmworkers have few federal workplace safety protections; only a few states, California and Washington among them, provide additional protections. A small fraction of workers benefit from union collective bargaining agreements, which require additional safety measures.

Among the hazards farmworker face are:

Unsanitary working and living conditions (such as lack of adequate drinking water and toilet facilities)

Crowded and substandard housing

Musculoskeletal injuries from repeated stooping, lifting, and cutting

Fall hazards

Other equipment-related injuries

Exposure to heat and other extreme conditions

Exposure to pesticides

Farmworkers, especially those who mix and apply pesticides, face greater risks of pesticide illness. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that up to 3,000 farmworkers suffer acute pesticide poisoning every year through occupational exposures. However, for a variety of reasons, the number of pesticide poisonings among farmworkers is much larger than reported. There is no national surveillance system for acute pesticide illness reporting and no surveillance system for tracking chronic illness related to pesticide exposure.

Workers may be exposed due to direct spray, drift, or contact with pesticide residues on the crop or soil. Farmworker families can also be exposed to pesticides when farmworker children play in treated fields; when workers inadvertently take home pesticide residues on their hair, skin, or clothing; or when pesticides drift into residences, schools, and other areas located near fields. Pesticides pose risks of short- and long-term illness to farmworkers and their families. Acute (immediate) health effects of pesticide exposure include rash, eye irritation, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and headaches. More serious acute effects include difficulty breathing, seizures, loss of consciousness, and death. Chronic (long-term) effects can result in cancer, neurological disorders, hormonal and reproductive health problems, birth defects and infertility. Even low levels of pesticide exposure over time can lead to these chronic health effects.

Farmworker Justice develops clinician guides, issue briefs, and educational materials for advocates, service providers, and workers on occupational and environmental health. These materials are available in our Resource Center. We also partner with state and national organizations to engage in advocacy in Congress and the Administration to ensure occupational safety and health protections for farmworkers.

Farmworker Health Issues

Farmworkers and their families face numerous health issues due to their living and working conditions, including diabetes, HIV/STIs, and skin cancer. Farmworker Justice’s health promotion projects focus on capacity building, training and technical assistance, and information-sharing to empower farmworkers to improve their health.

FJ’s “United Eliminating Barriers to Skin Cancer Prevention (Unidos)” addressed farmworker access to skin cancer and prevention. Partnering with Vista Community Clinic in California and Campesinos Sin Fronteras in Arizona, farmworkers received preventative education, free skin cancer screenings, and educational materials.

“Juntos Nos Movemos: Parents and Children Making the Time to Move Together” promotes physical activity among farmworker families. FJ is partnering with the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Collaboration Office and migrant health centers to develop curriculum content, provide trainings to farmworker families, and distribute educational materials.

FJ also partnered with Lideres Campesinas, a farmworker women’s organization in California, to develop “Breaking the Silence,” an educational video and discussion guide on sexual violence in agricultural fields. The video, created in Spanish and Mixteco, aims to educate and empower farmworker women mitigate and report sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. The video and companion materials are available for viewing and/or download.

FJ’s health resources respond to the needs of farmworker communities. Our materials for workers are created with community partners and are available in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole with a space for local information. We also develop issue briefs, fact sheets, and a Health Policy Bulletin to share health information with farmworker service providers to support their health efforts.

Visit our Resource Center to access our health materials.

Health Care Access

According to health center data, approximately 25% of farmworkers and their family members seek health care at a community health center. Community health centers that serve farmworkers and their families (commonly called migrant health centers) receive federal funds under Section 330(g) of the Public Health Service Act. This funding is administered by the Bureau of Primary Health Care at the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Underinsured and uninsured patients at community health centers can pay for services on a sliding fee scale, based on their income and family size. Yet cost remains a major obstacle to health care access for many farmworkers and their families. Some farmworkers and their families are eligible for Medicaid or subsidized health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. Workers who are injured or become ill at work may be eligible for workers’ compensation. However, laws regarding workers’ compensation coverage for farmworkers vary by state and eligible workers may be reluctant to file workers’ compensation claims due to misinformation or fear or employer retaliation.

Farmworker Justice partners with community health centers, Primary Care Associations, community-based organizations, legal services organizations, and national organizations to promote farmworker access to health care. FJ is a member of the Farmworker Health Network, a network of six national organizations (FJ, Health Outreach Partners, MHP Salud, Migrant Clinicians Network, National Center for Farmworker Health, and National Association of Community Health Centers) who provide training and technical assistance to health centers that serve farmworkers. We also partner with other national organizations that provide training and technical assistance to health centers through funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration. More information about these organizations and links to resources can be found in the National Health Center Resource Clearinghouse.

Disclaimer: This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $450,000 with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit

Know Your Rights & DACA Resources for Farmworkers

Immigration Enforcement/Know Your Rights for Farmworkers

Policy Updates and Strategies for the Field (2/15/17) –This webinar addresses immigration policy developments and immigration enforcement measures. The panel discusses immigrants' rights, with a focus on farmworkers and rural communities.  The panel discusses immigrants' rights, with a focus on farmworkers and rural communities. The panel features speakers from Farmworker Justice, the United Farm Workers Foundation, and SPLC. Listen here.

Legislative Proposals 115th Congress

► New Fact Sheet on the "Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2017." Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), with 4 co-sponsors, introduced the “Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2017.” The bill would establish an earned legalization program for undocumented farmworkers who have been consistently employed in U.S. agriculture and meet other requirements  Read our fact sheet. 

► New Fact Sheet on the DAIRY Act: Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), introduced the “Defending the Agricultural Industry’s Requirements Year-round Act of 2017” (DAIRY Act), H.R. 2087. This House bill would significantly expand the H-2A temporary foreign agricultural worker program by including year-round dairy farm jobs. The bill would allow employers to obtain H-2A workers on 18-month temporary work visas which employers could renew endlessly. Read our fact sheet.

► New Fact Sheet on the BARN Act: U.S. Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA) has re-introduced the "Better Agricultural Resources Now Act", or BARN Act. This bill would amend the H-2A program to remove important government oversight and to slash labor protections that are need to protect U.S. workers and guestworkers. The proposed changes would deprive U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of job opportunities, lower farmworkers’ already poor wages, and enable exploitative conditions for hundreds of thousands of new guestworkers. The bill lacks the solution that is needed: an opportunity for our experienced farmworkers who lack authorized immigration status to earn a green card and citizenship and reforms to address worker abuses under the H-2A program. Read our fact sheet.

► New Fact Sheet on HR281: Representative Stefanik (R-NY) has re-introduced the so-called “Family Farm Relief Act of 2017,” HR 281, along with co-sponsor Rep. Collins (R-NY). The bill proposes to revise the H-2A agricultural guestworker program in ways that would deprive U.S. citizens and permanent resident immigrants of job opportunities and allow exploitation of vulnerable foreign citizens who are hired on temporary work visas. Read our fact sheet.

2013 Administrative Relief/DACA

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced several executive actions to reform the immigration system. We applaud the President’s action, which will provide relief from deportation for millions of undocumented individuals, including hundreds of thousands of farmworkers and their family members. Read Farmworker Justice’s Press Release.

A major piece of these reforms will benefit undocumented immigrants who are parents of US citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and have been in the US since January 1, 2010. The program, called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), is similar to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. It will allow eligible parents to apply for temporary relief from deportation and work authorization. The President also expanded the DACA program to include more individuals. Note that there is no special program for agricultural workers.

A very rough estimate of farmworkers eligible for DAPA is 450,000. Available data are inadequate to confidently state a number or even a range. There may be about 2.4 million farmworkers in the U.S.; between 50% and 70% are undocumented. Surveys show that a large majority (over 80%) have resided in the U.S. for at least five years; a substantial portion (probably less than one-half) are parents of children who are U.S. citizens or LPRs. This estimate does not include a substantial number of spouses who are not farmworkers and will meet the criteria for eligibility.

WARNING! AVOID IMMIGRATION FRAUD: The DAPA and expanded DACA Programs are enjoined. There is NO application process yet for DAPA and the expanded DACA programs.

On February 16, 2015, a federal judge issued a court order in Texas v. United States temporarily preventing the federal government from implementing DAPA or extended DAPA. The Obama Administration is appealing the decision and is expected to eventually win. Until an appeals court overturns the judge’s order, potential DAPA and extended DACA applicants should continue to prepare for deferred action, including by saving money for the fees and collecting needed paperwork. Potential DAPA and expanded DACA applicants should not pay for anyone to file or prepare an application as there is currently NO application process nor any waiting list for DAPA or expanded DACA. Please note that the original DACA program announced in 2012 is still accepting original and renewal applications. Farmworker Justice’s statement on the court decision is available here.

Actual Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Guidelines

Farmworker Justice applauds Secretary Napolitano’s and the President's announcement of a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) plan for certain young people. Eligible unauthorized immigrants who meet certain criteria will be able to apply to the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for deferred action, which will prevent them from being deported for two years, at which time they may reapply for another two-year period. Individuals granted deferred action may apply for work authorization. You may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals if you:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. ** Taken directly from the USCIS website.

Generally, applicants must be at least 15 years old to apply. However, children who are under 15 years old in removal proceedings or who have a final order of removal may also apply. Applicants will also be required to undergo a background check after submitting their applications.

Farmworker Justice, in collaboration with farmworker unions and other organizations, is helping to ensure that farmworkers and their children are able to take advantage of the opportunity to earn DACA. Farmworkers support our communities and our country by ensuring a stable, healthy food supply, but face special obstacles due to their geographic isolation and low wages. They deserve full access to this opportunity. Farmworker Justice applauds DACA as a temporary, helpful step, but it will not solve the large-scale problem in agriculture, where the majority of farmworkers are undocumented and are unable to improve their working conditions or receive the respect they deserve. We also urge Congress to create a sensible immigration system for the many farmworkers who are aspiring Americans.

Potential beneficiaries of DACA should exercise caution to avoid fraud. Applicants should seek free or very low-fee services from a reputable organization or immigration lawyer.

For more information, see these warnings:

Understand DACA and the Requirements Before You Apply

Know the facts before you apply for DACA. Applications, along with guidance on the application process and information on confidentiality are available on USCIS’s website.

Legal Assistance: Information on legal clinics and free or low-cost attorneys and BIA accredited immigration representatives can be found at We Own the Dream.

Please note that there is no appeals process if your application is denied, so applicants should take their time in preparing their applications and have a lawyer or BIA accredited individual review their application.

Additionally, because this program is based on prosecutorial discretion (high level decisions about how to prioritize immigration enforcement), there is no guarantee that this program will continue. As USCIS itself notes, "DHS can terminate or renew deferred action at any time at the agency's discretion." Prospective applicants will have to weigh these considerations in deciding whether or not to apply for DACA.

For more information on DACA, visit the websites of the National Immigration Law Center and United We Dream. 

Expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Guidelines

The DACA program is a deferred action program for individuals who came to the United States as children and meet certain education requirements.

The period of deferred action and work authorization will be granted for 3 years instead of 2 starting November 24, 2014.

The following changes will be made to DACA around February 2015:

  • There is no longer an upper age limit to apply. The requirement that individuals be under age 31 as of June 15, 2012 will be eliminated; and,
  • Adjust the date-of-entry requirement. Individuals will be eligible if they have continuously resided in the US since January 1, 2010.

The following other DACA requirements remain the same:

  • You must have come to the US before the age of 16;
  • Have been in the US on June 15, 2012;
  • You must also meet certain educational criteria, such having a high school diploma or enrolling in an adult education, ESL or GED class; and
  • Not have committed certain crimes.

For more information, visit or speak with a trusted community organization.

Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) Guidelines


Deferred action does:

  • Protect individuals from deportation for a period of 3 years
  • Allow participants to apply for work authorization that lasts 3 years
  • Allows participants to renew their deferred action and work authorization

Deferred action does not:

  • Grant individuals permanent immigration status or place them on a path to permanent immigration status and citizenship

Note that there is NO application process yet. The US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will start accepting applications around May 2015. Deferred Action is discretionary and will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Requirements for Eligibility

According to preliminary information, you may be eligible, if you:

  • Have, as of November 20, 2014, at least one son or daughter who is a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR);
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 2010;
  • Are physically present in the US with no lawful status on November 20, 2014;
  • Have not been convicted of certain crimes or engaged in certain illegal activity; and,
  • Apply from within the U.S.

You must also

  • Pay a Fee: the fee is $465 and is subject to change.
  • Submit to a Background Check: Once the application is submitted, USCIS will schedule an appointment for the applicant to be fingerprinted to conduct a search for any history of arrests or criminal convictions, including juvenile adjudications.

Note: USCIS will provide more information about these and other criteria closer to the date on which they will begin accepting applications.


Parents cannot yet apply for the new deferred action program. There is no application process. Be careful of notarios and others who promise to fix your immigration papers. Remember, in the US, notarios públicos are not lawyers and cannot give you legal advice or fix your immigration papers. Seek advice from a trusted community organization that provides free or low-cost legal services. If you are not sure if the person offering to help you is telling the truth, check with another reliable source, like a church or a community organization. There are some people who take advantage of immigrants by taking their money and giving them incorrect legal advice. For more information, see

For more information on administrative relief, visit

Guestworker Programs

The United States currently has two guestworker programs for temporary work lasting less than a year: the H-2A program, for temporary agricultural work, and the H-2B program, for temporary nonagricultural work. These programs allow employers to obtain permission to hire foreign workers on temporary visas after engaging in recruitment in the U.S. and promising to meet certain requirements regarding recruitment, wages and/or working conditions. Each program imposes on foreign workers a temporary, non-immigrant status that ties workers to particular employers and makes their ability to obtain a visa dependent on the willingness of the employer to make a request to the U.S. government. History has shown us that foreign guestworkers who hold restricted status in the U.S. are vulnerable to workplace abuses. Even when Congress and federal agencies have sought to impose substantial labor law requirements on employers of guestworkers, the protections have often been meaningless because the workers are unable to enforce the law or are unwilling to attempt to enforce the law for fear of retaliation. For more information on the H-2 guestworker programs, please go to our Resource Center.

History of Bracero Program

During World War II, Congress responded to growers’ worries about a shortage of agricultural workers by approving the temporary entry of migrants from impoverished rural areas in Mexico. The Bracero Program became the largest guest worker program in US history, employing more than four million Mexican workers over its 22-year history. The program was controversial; some argued that the low wages at which migrants were willing to work threatened the jobs of domestic farmworkers. Though rules were in place to protect both migrants and domestic workers (such as guaranteed minimum wage and “humane treatment”) many employers ignored them, using braceros simply as a source of low-paid labor. The program became notorious for abuse and exploitation as well as the indignities of racism and discrimination inflicted upon the workers.

The Bracero Program was finally abolished in 1964, in response to pressure from labor unions and religious organizations. For more information on the Bracero Program, please see our Resource Center.

Immigration Reform & Farmworkers

Immigration is a critically important issue for farmworkers. Over one-half of the approximately 2.5 million seasonal workers on U.S. farms and ranches lack authorized immigration status. These farmworkers, like millions of Americans before them, immigrated to the United States to find opportunities and create a better life for their families. Farmworkers, who work extremely hard, often in hazardous conditions and for very low wages, make great contributions to our economy and deserve a path to citizenship.

Undocumented workers’ fear of deportation deprives them of bargaining power with their employers and inhibits them from challenging illegal employment practices. The presence of so many vulnerable farmworkers depresses wages and working conditions for all farmworkers, including U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants. Outside of the workplace, daily life for many undocumented farmworkers and their families is filled with fear about potential deportation and separation from family and loved ones.

Farmworker Justice is committed to immigration reform that empowers farmworkers to improve their inadequate wages and working conditions. Congress should enact legislation that reforms our broken immigration system and creates a roadmap to citizenship for farmworkers and their family members.

Information on immigration reform proposals and legislation may be found in the Immigration Enforcement and Legislative Proposals sections our Resource Center.

In May 2021, Farmworker Justice President Bruce Goldstein’s testified in support of immigration reform for farmworkers before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety.  Read or view his testimony in our resource center.

Immigration Enforcement & Farmworkers

State Immigration Laws

Farmworker Justice tracks harsh anti-immigrant state laws that violate civil liberties and intimidate both documented and undocumented Latino farmworkers. These laws drive hardworking undocumented farmworkers even further underground, making them more vulnerable to workplace abuse and often separating them from their families. Unfortunately, some growers are using the fear and devastation resulting from these laws to try to build support for a harsh new guestworker program. Instead, Congress needs to create a roadmap to citizenship for these aspiring immigrants that respects the contributions they have made to American agriculture and the economy.


We actively engage in litigation to advance employment rights of farmworkers and to remedy systemic labor abuses confronted by farmworkers.

Read moreLitigation