Fair Labor Matters
McFarland USA stars Johnny Samaniego and Thomas Valles with Migrant Legal Aid team.
Kevin Costner in McFarland USA with farmworker-student running champions
Disney's McFarland USA Stars Visit Migrant Legal Aid
Disney’s McFarland USA stars came to visit Migrant Legal Aid in Grand Rapids, on April 17, 2019. The stars also visited Grand Rapids Public Schools with their inspirational message, “Champions can come from anywhere.” Kevin Costner co-starred as the coach of their running team, a group of migrant farmworker children who led their team to a championship win and showcased the power of accepting cultural differences. They inspired our team, too!
The movie McFarland USA (2015) is based on the inspiring true story of underdogs triumphing over tremendous obstacles. The story follows novice runners who strive to build a cross-country team under Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) in their predominantly Latino high school. When Coach realizes the boys' exceptional running ability -- gained from running back and forth from field to school-- things change. Their power of family, commitment to each other and work ethic transform the team into champions.
Meet Josette Vanderlaan!

Josette is our newest summer intern at Migrant Legal Aid. Josette is from Atlanta, Georgia, where she just finished her second year studying Public Policy at Georgia Tech. She spent last summer interning at the Atlanta Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, and she's excited to expand on that experience this summer with Migrant Legal Aid. She looks forward to learning about migrant families in Michigan and how she can serve them in her future law career. Welcome Josette!
Taste of Fair Food at Bridge Street Market
May 14, 2019, from 4-6 pm, Migrant Legal Aid held a taste and learn event at Bridge Street Market . Participants sampled local food and spirits and learned how they can be a part of reducing exploitation of labor in the food supply chain. Our favorites: Regal Bison , Field & Fire , Farm Country Cheese , Gray Skies Distillery. and Mayan Buzz Cafe
Public Invited to Discussion on White Privilege
Thursday, May 16, from 6 to 8 pm at the Adrian Armory Event Center on East Maumee Street there will be a discussion on the understanding of privilege and how to exercise privilege in a way that benefits entire communities. Panelists include Mark Murray, owner of the Adrian Armory; Isabel Valdez, a student; Jeanette Henagan, President of the Lenawee Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); and retired Monroe County Judge Joe Costello. All are welcome.
Luis Miguel, son of migrant farmworkers in California.
Why are Migrant Children Missing School?
California laws require migrant families to move at least 50 miles away for three to six months after the harvest season has ended in order to qualify for subsidized migrant housing. Most families can't afford to live in California without subsidies so they instead return to their hometowns in Mexico. While in Mexico, the children of these families go to school inconsistently or not at all. Some students live too far from a school, others are turned away because they'll only be enrolled a few months before returning to the US. Each year these children, many of whom are US citizens, miss three to six months of school. Learn how researchers and lawyers at Human Agenda got together to change this policy here.

Justice for Migrant Women
In 2014, Mónica Ramírez founded Justice for Migrant Women, an organization that helps women fight gender-based violence and discrimination in the agriculture industry. Nearly 30% of the two to three million farmworkers in the US are women, and 8 out of 10 of those women have experienced sexual harassment at work. Justice for Migrant Women provides support, resources, and educational workshops for women farmworkers.
Founder and President Mónica Ramírez
HUD says 55,000 children could be displaced under Trump plan to evict undocumented immigrants
Current rules allow families with mixed immigration statuses to receive federal housing subsidies as long as one member is a US Citizen. A new proposed rule would change those regulations, requiring all members of a household to be legal US residents in order to qualify, forcing out 55,000 children who are all legal U.S. residents or citizens. Read more.
The Long History of Lacking Labor Protections
What do most labor laws prior to 1960 have in common? They specifically excluded farmworkers. For decades, farmworkers were excluded from minimum wage laws, overtime pay, and protections for organizing labor. In 1960 a documentary exposing the abuse of farmworkers inspired new protections for the group, but those protections are slowly being taken away. Read More.
The Unsung Hero of the Delano Grape Strike
Many know Mexican-American civil-rights activist Cesar Chavez as the face of the 1965 Delano grape strike of California, but few know the story of Larry Itliong, a Filipino-American organizer, who led a group of Filipino-American grape workers to first strike in September 1965. First, the migrants asked for a $0.15 per hour raise, and they got it after just a week. Three months later, their next strike would last 5 long years. Read more.
Farmworkers march to protest the death of fellow worker Honesto Silva. Photo credit: David Bacon
Fired For Asking For a Raise
After one farmworker was fired simply for asking for a raise, workers at the fields of Sakuma Brothers Farms spent the next four years striking and eventually forming a union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia. Read more.