Why care about undocumented farmworkers?
Over 50% of the farmworkers--in upstate and elsewhere--are undocumented, and, despite the rhetoric from Washington, surveys show that approximately 75% of New Yorkers say they appreciate their contributions. Dairy farms depend on workers from Mexico and Guatemala. Since there is no visa program for year-round workers on dairy farms, the precarious status of these workers poses serious concerns for the economic viability of the dairy industry. The U.S. fruit, vegetable and meat industries are also at risk, and without the help of unauthorized workers, production would drop and consumers would likely see higher prices.
The Cornell Farmworker Program is dedicated to improving the living and working conditions of farmworkers and their families. The program also seeks recognition for farmworker’s contributions to society and their acceptance and full participation in local communities. The Cornell Farmworker Program envisions a state and nation in which farmworkers receive equal protection under law, earn a living wage, live in comfortable housing, are safe and healthy, receive due respect as workers and as individuals, and participate fully in their communities. The program strives to develop materials and programs that address long-term challenges (like positive workplace relations) as well as time-sensitive issues (such as immigration policy changes).
In Fall 2019, Professor Debra Castillo teaches Migration in the Americas: Engaged Research Methods and Practice on concepts and developments related to migrants and migration in Central America, Mexico, and the United States. Students will practice their skills through collaboration with the Cornell Farmworker Program on priority projects identified by immigrant farmworkers.
In the media:
- "Why care about undocumented immigrants? For one thing, they’ve become vital to key sectors of the US economy," Mary Jo Dudley for The Conversation
- "Students present projects on migration patterns to immigrant farmworkers," Cornell Daily Sun