Farmwork in the U.S. is a changing landscape with outside forces such as immigration transforming who those workers are and who they will become. These days, migrant and seasonal farmworkers are performing the back-breaking labor that U.S.-born citizens have long given up on doing. Whether we like it or not, these immigrants have become a vital part of the agricultural workforce in the U.S.; they are the farmworkers who feed this nation.
Farmworkers, documented or not, are dreamers even if they are not “Dreamers,” because they’re all aspiring to a better life. Many entered into this country looking for a brighter future, a pathway to success for their children and younger siblings. Some ventured into the U.S. on their own and have created a life for themselves by setting down roots. No matter their journey, these dreamers made it here and are contributing to society by picking the fruits and vegetables we eat. Now not only are dreamers toiling in our fields, but they are in search of a new pathway: one that leads to citizenship, a stable life, a better livelihood, or all three.
These days we are bombarded by anti-immigrant sentiment and distracted by divisive talk about the “other”, but, during this week of National Farmworker Awareness, I am challenging all of you that read this blog post to instead stop and find your common ground. According to the USA Today, Dreamers make up about 3.6 million of the U.S. population. They are Americans: hardworking farmworkers, neighbors, colleagues, and employees. And they’re doing the hard work that needs doing under a cloud of insecurity and fear just because, unlike some of us, they simply weren’t born here.
May we all find it in ourselves to identify the dreams we share with farmworkers, and, in that commonality, embrace each other’s humanity.