Things That Matter

This Former Farm Worker Is Now A Doctor And Paying It Forward In The Greatest Way Possible

As Latinos, we know that most of our family, friends, and neighbors have all faced struggles. But that as a community we often face those challenges together and come out stronger because of it.

That is exactly what is happening with this doctor in California’s Central Valley.

As a former farmworker, Dr. Bautista understands the struggles that so many migrants face. And he’s made it his mission to help out how he best can.

Credit: @Latinovations / Twitter

This is how you stick up for your community and help out all those who supported you.

In an interview with NBC News, Bautista says he drives by armies of farmworkers on his daily commute to and from his practice outside Fresno.

And he shares a common bond with them: he was once a farm worker himself. As a boy, he picked fruit alongside his parents and nine siblings in Ventura County. The family made $4,000 a year back then, today that’s equivalent to just a little over $30,000.

Bautista told NBC News, “I pledged in medical school to help these people in the farm fields. I knew how it felt not to have anything, not to have the money to go to a doctor.”

Little has changed in the years since he was a farm worker himself.  

Workers still struggle to make ends meet as pay is still abysmal, if they’re ever paid at all. And many farmworkers still lack the transportation, money or time off from work to treat injuries, let alone seek preventive medical care.

And in today’s anti-immigrant political climate, many workers have even more to worry about.

Credit: @latinocfc / Twitter

Many migrants are undocumented and are constantly living in fear that any interaction can lead to deportation. Some are avoiding vaccinations, check-ups, even major treatments, out of fear of being torn from their families and the lives they’ve worked so hard to build.

To make sure that migrants are getting all treatments they need, this doctor treats patients whether or not they have money or legal documents. “We never say no to patients,” he told NBC News.

Farmworkers report feeling secure and say, “He’s one of us.”

Dr. Bautista now has two clinics in the Central Valley and they function as safe havens for immigrants who can come here seeking medical attention without fear or repercussions.

Patients are never asked about their immigration status, and the staffs have set up protocols in case the offices are raided by immigration authorities.

An undocumented mother of five, who has picked oranges in Fresno Country for two decades, told NBC News: “I feel secure with him, he’s one of us.”

Bautista accepts as payment whatever his patients can offer: onions, handmade keychains, eggs, even live chickens.

Credit: @costadaniel / Twitter

Many on Twitter were quick to point out that if the US adopted the human right to health care, with a program like universal healthcare, people wouldn’t have to worry about how they’re going to pay.

Dr. Bautista is inspiring many on Twitter to call out the inequities and discrimination that exist in our healthcare systems.

Credit: @BOLDPAC / Twitter

Immigrants refusing medical care out of fear is a sure sign that our healthcare system is failing the most vulnerable among us.

But thankfully there are people like Dr. Bautista who are doing their part to help the communities that needs him most.

READ: A Look at the World of Migrant Farmworkers through the Eyes of a Child

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California Sets Vaccination Plan For Agricultural Workers During Next Phase

Things That Matter

California Sets Vaccination Plan For Agricultural Workers During Next Phase

Brent Stirton / Getty Images

The world is racing to vaccinate everyone to put a stop to the relentless Covid-19 pandemic. In the U.S., states and counties are rolling out their own plans based on suggestions from health experts. California, home to the largest population of farmworkers, is making them a priority.

California has laid out their vaccination plan and farmworkers are being prioritized.

California is facing a relentless Covid-19 surge of infections, deaths, and hospitalizations. According to The New York Times, California has the second-highest level of infections per capita in the U.S. More than 30,000 people have died of Covid in California and the vaccination effort has been severely lagging.

California’s vaccination plan has been criticized for its very slow roll out.

According to the California Department of Public Health, more than 816,000 doses of the virus have been given to residents. There have been more than 2 million vaccine doses shipped to California. Currently, California, the most populated state in the country, is still in Phase 1A. Phase 1A is for healthcare workers and long-term care residents. The Vaccinate All 58 campaign claims that there are 3 million people in California in Phase 1A. Almost 40 million people live in California.

Activists have been calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to make sure that farmworkers are prioritized.

California is home to the largest concentration of farmworkers in the U.S. The Center for Farmworker Families claims that 500,000 to 800,000 farmworkers, or about 1/3 to 1/2 of the farmworker populations, live in California. Seventy-five percent of farmworkers in California are undocumented.

As the rest of the state was able to shelter in place, farmworkers did not stop working. They provided a necessary lifeline to the nation in keeping the food supply running. Farmworkers are more likely to contract Covid because of their living conditions. Studies show that the low wages that farmworkers are paid means that many live in crowded conditions.

READ: As The U.S. Rolls Out The COVID-19 Vaccine, What’s The Future Of Vaccine Access In Latin America?

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Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

Things That Matter

Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

During the 2020 election, Latinos were a massive electoral voting bloc. In fact, for the first time ever, the Latino vote outnumbered the Black vote. According to the Pew Research Center, there are now 32 million eligible Latino voters and that accounts for 13 percent of all eligible voters. 

And, Latinos helped deliver the presidency to Joe Biden. So it can be expected that the community has high expectations for Joe Biden to deliver on his campaign promises of immigration reform.

During a recent speech about his first 100 days in office, Joe Biden outlined his priorities once he’s sworn in on January 20th, and said he would “immediately” send an immigration bill to congress.

Joe Biden promises swift action on immigration reform as soon as he takes office.

Over the weekend, President-Elect Joe Biden promised he would take swift action when it comes to immigration reform and rolling back many of the cruel and dangerous policies put into place by the Trump administration.

“I will introduce an immigration bill immediately,” he said in a news conference on Friday.

Although he didn’t go into detail regarding the proposed legislation, he’s previously committed to ending Trump’s ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim nations, and that he wants a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and an increase in guest worker permits to help bring undocumented agricultural workers – many of whom are now considered “essential workers” – out of the shadows.

Biden had already promised an immigration overhaul within the first 100 days of his presidency but this commitment definitely increases the pressure on him and congress to get things done.

Biden also said his justice department will investigate the policy of child separation.

During the same press conference, Biden said that his Justice Department will determine responsibility for the family separation program, which led to more than 2,600 children being taken from caregivers after crossing the U.S. southern border, and whether it was criminal.

“There will be a thorough, thorough investigation of who is responsible, and whether or not the responsibility is criminal,” Biden said. That determination will be made by his attorney general-designate, Merrick Garland, he added.

During the campaign, Biden finally took responsibility for many of his administration’s immigration failures.

Nicknamed the “Deporter in Chief,” Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in U.S. history with over 3 million deportations during his time in office. 

But as part of that administration, Joe Biden is also complicit. That’s why during the campaign he seemed to acknowledge at least some of the pain the duo caused.

“Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden Administration, and he believes we must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers,” Biden’s immigration plan reads. 

While Obama’s methods pale in comparison to the cruel tactics like family separation, inhumane conditions, and targeted raids, the impact the deportations have had on families is cannot be quantified.

Biden, like any Vice President, is put in the position of having to defend his president, but also himself as the future president. This isn’t a bad thing, Biden must distinguish himself from his predecessor but if the shadow of Obama’s legacy is buying him goodwill, it might be difficult to undermine that administration’s stances.

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