Support Farm Workers (and Undocumented Residents) During this Crisis

Invest in farm workers first!

Food system workers, including the first line of workers – farm workers – are essential workers and deserve our gratitude and support! They are risking their lives to ensure that the rest of society can eat.

farmworkers in strawberry field

Therefore, we join with our partners around the country in calling for safety, health, fair compensation and support for them and their families.

Below, I’ve included the portions of the HEAL Food Alliance platform that focus particularly on farm workers and their needs.  We hope you will keep all who work in the fields in your prayers and advocate for these ways to support them as Congress considers subsequent stimulus packages. See info about the recording of Thursday’s Facebook Live from Children in the Fields Campaign. At the bottom are resources and articles on farm workers and undocumented immigrants. Finally, some words from a Capuchin Franciscan Brother, Fr. Richard Hendrick.


As Cesar Chavez said, “It’s ironic that those who till the soil, cultivate and harvest the fruits, vegetables, and other foods that fill your tables with abundance have nothing left for themselves.” Essential workers deserve essential benefits. Please take action today.

Take one or both of these actions to protect these front line workers:

COVID farmworker diagram


  • All employers must be required to provide workers with information on how to protect themselves from the virus and guarantee safe workplaces including providing protective equipment, frequent and regular hand-washing breaks, and the required space for “social distancing.
  • Allocate funding as needed for language-appropriate information transfer
  • Farmworkers must be provided easy access to a sufficient amount of clean water at close proximity to the work site and the same health & safety information and protective equipment must be given to workers in crowded and substandard employer-provided housing.


  • Ensure that all workers receive the supplemental income they need to survive, regardless of immigration or employment status by:
    • Expanding access to unemployment insurance to all workers
    • Setting up lost wage funds that covers full replacement of wages for both workers and for employers who pay lost wages


    • Access to free testing and healthcare coverage for all workers regardless of immigration status, including H2A and migrant workers.


  • Immediate moratorium on the Public Charge Rule which would disqualify immigrants who use public assistance from obtaining permanent residency status.
  • An immediate moratorium on all immigration enforcement, including repatriations and deportations of guest workers and non-status migrants
  • An immediate release of all immigration detainees from detention centers and detention camps, and adequate health services for all.
  • A removal of restrictions on work permits for guest workers and migrant workers who have been laid off or terminated, or who fall ill and need to remain in the country to access health care.


  • Expand, increase, and protect food and nutrition programs like SNAP and Women, Infants and Children (WIC), with no discriminatory barriers including testing, citizenship, or work requirements, and expand healthy and sustainable options within those programs


  • Provide financial support for smaller and independent producers to pay a living wage to farmworkers  

farmworkers fb liveMigrant and Seasonal Farmworkers (MSFW) during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Recording available HERE

View the Children in the Fields Campaign discussion on Facebook Live about migrant and seasonal farmworkers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s important to understand the possible effects and injustice of the Coronavirus on the farmworker community.  Some of the questions to be discussed are the following:

  • What laws protect undocumented MSFWs during this time?
  • Will the CARES Act protect/cover undocumented MSFW?
  • Are MSFWs allowed to get paid overtime for extra hours during this pandemic?
  • How can undocumented MSFWs access healthcare during COVID-19 pandemic, and anytime?
  • What is actually happening in the fields? Are we seeing an increase in abuses now that everyone is under a stay-at-home ruling?

Resources & Articles

The One Fair Wage Campaign has started a relief fund for restaurant and gig workers affected by the crisis in states where it has active campaigns (CA, CO, DC, FL, IL, MD, MA, MI, NJ, NY, PA)

Legal Aid at Work FAQ on filing for unemployment, forced stay-home, immigrant discrimination, etc.

U.S. Government: Immigrants can seek coronavirus care without fear

National and local COVID-19 resources for undocumented communities, a continuously updated crowd-sourced google doc

This is Why Trump Must Give Bailout Checks to Undocumented Immigrants

Resources for Undocumented Immigrants and their Families During COVID-19

Global Harvests at Risk With Travel Limits Squeezing Labor

COVID-19 Threatens Food Supply Chain As Farms Worry About Workers Falling Ill

Sharing some words from Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM, 
written on March 13, 2020 and shared with the National Farm Worker Ministry board…
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,