Things That Matter

Short Film ‘So Close To America’ Lays Bare The Facts Of Being An Undocumented Farm Worker

Immigrants in the United States have a long history of being the scapegoat during times of uncertainty. Every generation has a group of people that were demonized and dehumanized in a false attempt to better the lives of “Americans.” Currently, immigrants from Latin America are being used as the scapegoat by President Donald Trump as he pushes for his border wall to stop what he claims is a crisis at the border. Despite Trump’s claims, illegal border crossings are at record lows and crime levels in border cities are lower than the national average. Filmmaker Peter Carrs is using his own film “So Close to America” to dispel the hurtful and blatantly false claims of immigration leading to crime.

Peter Carrs’s “So Close to America” is a film demolishing the notion of undocumented immigrants getting a free ride in the U.S.

The film’s full title is “So Close to Ameria: Undocumented Farm Workers & The Myth of ‘The Free Ride'” is an intimate look at the daily lives of immigrant farm workers. The subjects of the documentary are the center of one of the great political debates of the 21st century with both parties fighting on opposite sides of the debate.

In the film, Carrs breaks down the facts about immigration and the impact immigrants have had on the agriculture industry. Carrs’s documentary shows that most of the farm workers are immigrants and anywhere between 50 to 80 percent of them are undocumented.

One fact Carrs tackles is the notion that undocumented immigrants are draining the welfare system.

Credit: SoberalskiLaw / Twitter

According to Vox, about half of all undocumented workers in the U.S. file federal taxes annually. In 2015, undocumented workers made up $23.6 billion paid to the federal government in taxes. Not to mention the taxes spent buying a home, buying gas, buying groceries, etc.

At the same time, undocumented immigrants cannot benefit from any of the social programs their tax dollars pay for. Why? Federal laws prohibit undocumented immigrants from accessing federal welfare programs. However, some of the children of immigrants do have access to some programs, such as healthcare, WIC, and other programs because they are U.S. citizens.

Even for legal immigrants, there is a five-year ban on accessing any kind of government assistance. Trump has tried to “propose” this to the U.S. but the law has been in place since 1996 when Bill Clinton signed the bill. Essentially, anyone claiming that undocumented immigrants are overloading the welfare system is not telling the full and true story.

The basic message of the film is that undocumented farm workers keep our food affordable, boost our economy, and contribute to the U.S. by paying taxes.

“Whether we want to admit it or not, our agricultural system is almost entirely dependent on migrant labor, but specifically undocumented migrant labor,” historian Cody Ferguson says in “So Close to America.” “Undocumented workers, they’re doing some of the hardest work that you can do in the United States. And, as a result of their hard work, we have this incredible, diverse system of agriculture that can provide practically anything we want to eat, whenever we want to eat it, for some of the cheapest prices in the world.”

According to the Department of Agriculture, around 50 percent of the work force making up the farmworkers in the U.S. are undocumented. According to a report in CBS News, certain aspects of the farm economy are more vulnerable to the uncertainty of our immigration policies.

CBS News reports that there is currently no visa program for year-round dairy farm workers, which relies heavily on undocumented and migrant labor. Furthermore, a study commissioned by the dairy industry found that if federal immigration policies removed 50 percent of the dairy farm laborers from the workforce, 3,500 dairy farms will be forced to close.

President Trump’s sustained and amplified attack on immigration, both illegal and legal, could have damaging repercussions for the U.S. economy. The immigration system is complex and difficult to maneuver and is in desperate need of an overhaul. Comprehensive immigration reform is something people support. Several prominent political and cultural leaders have spoken out about the need for comprehensive immigration reform and it’s time we start taking those steps.

READ: Miami Film Festival Cancels Screening of Immigration Doc After ICE Detained The Movie’s Main Character

Maluma And Eva Longoria Are Just Two Of The Huge Names Joining A Virtual Cinco De Mayo Event That You Definitely Want To Join

Things That Matter

Maluma And Eva Longoria Are Just Two Of The Huge Names Joining A Virtual Cinco De Mayo Event That You Definitely Want To Join

Sony Entertainment / Maluma

The Coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of Americans to shelter in place from the safety of their homes. Meanwhile, millions of others are on the frontlines keeping this country running. They’re now known as “essential workers” and they’re made up of healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, fast food attendants, line cooks at local restaurants, janitors, meat processing plant workers, and agricultural workers.

These roles now deemed “essential” all have one thing in common – they employ a higher percentage of immigrant and undocumented workers than most other segments of the economy. 

And with Cinco de Mayo happening tomorrow, there is a star-studded event taking place that we all need to show up to – even if we don’t get out of our sweatpants.

Farmworkers and the undocumented community are more vulnerable now than ever – and they need your help.

Credit: Paul Sanders / Flickr

More than an estimated three million farmworkers are on the frontlines, helping support the global food supply. And they’re doing it during a global health crisis.

About 50% of the agricultural workforce is comprised of undocumented immigrants. Because of the nature of their work, physical distancing is difficult to abide by as is handwashing and other CDC requirements. They’re also missing required protective gear, including masks. All while having to face the constant fear of deportation.

And while the government has stepped up in some ways to help those who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic – they are specifically excluding undocumented workers (even those deemed essential) from receiving federal aid.

And that’s where Altísimo Live comes in!

Credit: AltísimoLive / Instagram

In an effort to provide for farmworkers throughout the U.S., RetroPop Media and iHeartLatino joined forces to develop Altísimo Live!. Together with the iHeartLatino Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Enrique Santos, Eva Longoria will host this huge, star-studded concert, which will feature some of the biggest Latino artists.

So how do you attend a virtual event?

Credit: AltísimoLive / Instagram

Altísimo Live is a free event but its organizers are asking for $5 donations from viewers in an effort to support the community. All you have to do. Is text “Cinco” to 91999 or you can donate directly to the Farmworkers’ Pandemic Relief Fund. They hope to raise $3 million to provide care and supplies to farmworkers and their families.

The bilingual event kicks off across the concert’s official social media pages: Facebook LiveYouTubeTwitter, Periscope, and Twitch simultaneously on Tuesday, May 5th at 1 p.m. ET. They’re going to lead the event off with an interactive tailgating experience and then sets of continuous performances. There will even be interactive Q&As between artists and their fans at 8 p.m. ET.

All from the comfort of your own home.

And trust, this is one you’re going to want to tune into.

Credit: AltísimoLive / Instagram

The long list of celebrities performing includes Maluma, Becky G, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Jesse & Joy, A.B. Quintanilla III y Los Kumbia Allstarz, Juanes, Luis Fonsi, Nicky Jam, Maná, Ivy Queen, Los Tigres del Norte, Carlos Vives, and Marc Anthony and others. Additionally, Sofia Vergara, J Balvin, Kate del Castillo, Rosario Dawson, and Alejandro Sanz will make appearances.

Fashion designers Mario De la Torre, Carlos Marrero, and Raul Peñaranda, will also join the event to share how they are using their talent and unique designs in support of the pandemic relief effort. Some of their special edition farmworker-inspired designs will be available for purchase in support of the event.

How else can you show love for the community?

Credit: AltísimoLive / Instagram

So although the event is free, the organizers are looking to raise that $3 million at $5 a person. Incredible! But in addition to donating, you can also show your support for the event by blasting it across your social media using #AltisimoLive, #CincoOnCinco and #SupportFarmworkers.

Some of the event’s proceeds will also benefit Coalition of Florida Farmworker Organizations, East Coast Migrant Head Start Project, NC Fields, La Cooperativa Campesina de California, LULAC of Puerto Rico, La Union del Pueblo Entero in Texas and more.

However, the concert series isn’t just about raising money for farmworkers. It’s also a reminder that they are appreciated and that we as a community have their back.

You can also wear your support on your sleeve!

Credit: Mitú

You can also literally wear your support for farmworkers on your sleeve and help support the event’s organizations. Mitú has launched a womens, mens and kids t-shirt line with the Farmworkers Are Always Essential slogan on them. Twenty percent of the proceeds from the sale of every t-shirt on the Mitú shop will go to the Farmworkers Pandemic Relief Fund.

Tune in to Altísimo Live! on Tuesday, May 5th starting at 10 a.m. PT, 1 p.m. ET.

California Farmworkers Treated To Touching ‘Farmworkers Appreciation Caravan’

Culture

California Farmworkers Treated To Touching ‘Farmworkers Appreciation Caravan’

Sal Lua / Facebook

No matter what is happening in the world, farmworkers are always there to make sure that we have food. We have seen images of farmworkers in the fields during wildfires and other natural disasters. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different and some people have come together to show them some love.

Farmworkers are still in the fields harvesting produce so we can all have food while sheltering at home.

Credit: Sal Lua / Facebook

Farmworkers have been deemed as essential during the pandemic and they are still in the fields picking the fruits and vegetables we all need during this time. Unlike most people, the farmworkers, who are largely migrants, are risking their health to make sure that we all have the food we all want and need.

One group of farmworkers got a moment of love and appreciation from people who rely on them.

Credit: Sal Lua / Facebook

Despite being deemed essential and being given paperwork that lists them as essential, they are still not protected. According to The New York Times, the same workers deemed as essential are still at risk every day of being arrested, detained, and deported because of their immigration status.

The small parade of love has received national attention on social media.

The photos came from a farm in California, which has a high undocumented population, especially among farmworkers. According to data on undocumented immigrant stimulus checks offered, there are about 2.3 million undocumented people living in California.

People in the mini parade held signs offering messages of love and appreciation for the people working in the fields.

Credit: Sal Lua / Facebook

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have both called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to develop a plan to help detainees during this time. Immigration and criminal justice reform advocates fear the devastating impact COVID-19 could have on people currently detained.

“Immigration detention should not be a death sentence,” Andrea Flores, ACLU deputy director of policy, Equality Division said in a statement. “Detention in ICE facilities is inherently dangerous as we endure the COVID-19 pandemic, and ICE has demonstrated it is unable to provide safe and sanitary conditions — even in the best of circumstances. This extraordinary public health crisis compels an extraordinary response. Temporarily suspending enforcement and releasing those in detention is necessary both for the safety of detainees and staff and to flatten the curve for all.”

The group, called the Farmworker Appreciation Caravan, is doing more than showing support.

The group is raising money to help farmworkers and their families during this time. The farmworkers are not paid much for their jobs and the strain from a pandemic could bring financial stress under which most Americans are struggling. This bit of help from the community could change the world for some of the families.

The images are being met with an admiration for the farmworkers.

“Thank you to your hands who are making it possible for us to get food to our table,” one Twitter user said. “Thank you so much for your hard work.”

READ: More Than A Million Farmworkers Are Putting Themselves At Risk During The Coronavirus Pandemic And Here’s Why