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 Michigan Migrant Legal Aid May 2016

MLA is continuing its pilot project and advocacy for language access for victims of crime.  The coalition is a collaboration among victim services, immigrant advocates, prosecutors and law enforcement.  Farmworkers face more assault and workplace violence than we realize, and they should have equal access to Crime Victim's Rights laws. Thank you to Prosecuting Attorney Chris Becker for his 
leadership on VLAC and advocacy efforts with PAAM: Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan. For info on VLAC's June meeting, c ontact 616 454-5055.

Registration is Now Open for the 10th Annual Cup of Justice Golf Fundraiser  
Join us on Friday, June 24th, 2016 at the Mines Golf Course for 18 holes of Golf, Fun, Food  and Prizes.  If golfing isn't your thing then check out our sponsorship opportunities. To Register or Sponsor please contact Danielle Emelander at (616) 454-5055 or by email at or register online.

MLA Explains Potential Harm of  SB 501 Driver's License Bill
MLA organized Growers and advocates to educate lawmakers on amendments needed to make SB 501 bill non-discriminatory. MLA was asked by lawmakers to explain the unconstitutional nature of the bill.  MLA provided input to show that the bill would violate the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution and create a path for racial profiling during immigration checks by police involved in traffic stops.  The analysis provided by MLA and the Agribusiness opposition appears to have helped slow the bill down to give lawmakers time to consider amendments like the one offered by Rep. Stephanie Chang.  It also appears that the businesses who originally supported the bill may have shifted their support, pending approval of  a more favorable amendment.  MLA continues to monitor this and offer lawmakers an analysis of any proposed amendments. 
MLA Recovers $$Thousands in Wage Theft from Gratiot County Grower
Pumpkin pickers complained to MLA they had not received all the wages they had earned.   MLA intervened and represented the farmworkers in asserting their rights under Michigan's minimum wage law (WOWA).  As a result, the farm sent checks for the amounts owed in unpaid wages.  
Michigan Dept. Civil Rights' DirectorDr. Agustin Arbulu Protects Minimum Wage of Migrant Harvesters  
Lansing, MI.  On May 2, 2016 the Interagency Migrant Services Committee (IMSC) was hosted by MDCR's Dr. Arbulu.  He reported that he had spoken with LARA's Wage & Hour agency regarding its decision that afforded no minimum wage protection for certain piece-rate harvesters. Discussions were fruitful and Dr. Arbulu said he expects an Executive Order will issue to support these workers rights to minimum wage and prevent future enforcement denials. 

MLA Investigating Cases that Involve:
o             Farmworkers displaced by H-2A workers
o             Housing discrimination against undocumented family                    members (not worker housing)
o             Managers taking  bribes before offering jobs

Please contact MLA if you have any questions or information on these scenarios.  
Help Find Farmworkers Whose Checks are Waiting:
In 2012, the Department of Labor investigated Margarito Martinez, d.b.a. Triple S Harvesting. The DOL found that Triple S Harvesting failed to pay its workers all the wages owed when due under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Protection Act. As a result, the DOL collected the back wages that it calculated Triple S Harvesting owed its employees.
Workers named in the link above should call (678) 237-0484 (US DOL) and reference Case  1665343 Triple S Harvesting. Messages can be left in English or Spanish.   

MLA Hosts Pre-Season Officers Meeting
On April 14th Migrant Legal Aid hosted the Migrant Resource Council Officers for their Pre-Season Officers Meeting in the Learning Center. Officers discussed new policies on media and finances, and ideas on outreach and MRC activities. 


There's a lot to talk about on the subject. Farmworkers in the U.S. earn extremely low wages - an  average annual individual income of $12,500 to $14,999 , according to the Department of Labor's National Agricultural Workers Survey. Most lack health insurance and many work long hours - more than half of NAWS respondents report working more than 40 hours a week.
The initiative is a way to remove historical antagonism between groups and improve food safety, reduce pesticide use and improve worker conditions.
The arguments for cracking down on immigration often revolves around American jobs. Those for stronger legislation say that immigrants are taking jobs that Americans could be working.
But those in the Ag industry know, as it relates to farming, that couldn't be more false.
For the nearly 1,500 migrant farmworkers in Vermont, there aren't many opportunities to share their experiences with each other. A project called " El Viaje Mas Caro" hopes to change that.

Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa grew up in Mexicali, Mexico, illegally jumped the border in 1987 on his 19th birthday. He was a farmworker in California where he earned money to take English lessons. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard Medical School and become an American citizen. The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville has hired Dr. Hinojosa as their Professor and Chairman of neurological surgery.
16-year-old Candelario Jimon Alonzo came to the U.S. to earn a High School Education and become a teacher, now he is sitting at home like many other local teens because Memphis Schools are saying the teens lack transcripts or are too old to graduate on time. 
MLA is dedicated to defending and preserving farmworker jobs, dignity, health, income, and legal rights.  
Teresa Hendricks
Migrant Legal Aid
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