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 Urgent Deadline to Claim Funds from Blueberry Settlement

Help us spread the word as we distribute a $200,000 settlement. If someone worked in 2011, 2012 or 2013 for Bluestar Farms in Fennville, MI, they should contact us to submit their claim in time, by
Sept. 14, 2018. The funds derive from a class action settlement where workers alleged inaccurate pay records and wages. The settlement distribution will follow the settlement agreement. See Aviso for the Notice to workers in Spanish. Call 1-800-418-3390, or text (616) 303-1529.

Meet Mary 
Migrant Legal Aid welcomes Mary Bennett as our new CFO.  Mary grew up in Puerto Rico, since the age of three, and is fluent in Spanish. She has worked in non-profit administration for over 14 years, offering high level executive and board assistance. Her bookkeeping expertise and skills in grant submissions, reporting, budgeting, and event planning make her the perfect fit. Known for her efficiency, commitment and compassion, our staff welcomes her to our team.  We know Cindy Silva would be delighted we chose Mary (among 45 applicants). Besides her passion for protecting migrants, Mary loves animals. Cue the puppies!

ICE executes federal search warrants in Nebraska, Minnesota and Nevada 

133 arrested on immigration violations of workers likely exploited, abused
August 8, 2018 GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - During a multi-state operation led by special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a series of arrest warrants were executed for 17 individuals connected to an alleged conspiracy to exploit illegal alien laborers for profit, fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in two states. 

Law enforcement believes the alleged conspirators, 17 individuals located in multiple states, colluded to create an illegal alien workforce in their respective businesses.  Workers may have been exploited as part of this alleged criminal conspiracy.   Read more

Migrant worker's death highlights risks of seasonal farm work 

Migrant workers endure triple digit temps for single digit pay. Deaths of detasselers in Illinois, and now Nebraska, illustrate the dangers.

"They come here, they just want to work, hard-working, work long hours," explained Jody Stutzman of Proteus, Inc. "Migrant workers may come with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and the promise of jobs" Read more .

Little Yellow Ducks Guided  Deadly Journey  
Trail Markers, by Tom Kiefer, are part of a photo series to exhibit in Saugatuck, Michigan

The photographic series by a former janitor working for Border Protection in Arizona will be on display in Saugatuck Michigan, with the artist himself, beginning October 22, 2018. The ducks pictured here were used to mark the trail for migrants looking for a better life, to keep them from becoming lost along the perilous cross-border journey where thousands have died.  Border Patrol Agents removed the rubber ducks from bushes and branches. 
While taking out the trash, the artist saw other items confiscated from border crossers, from canned goods and shoes, to rosaries and bibles, all deemed by border patrol agents to be "non-essential" or "potentially lethal." 

Mr. Kiefer curated the items, photographed them and released some images on his website, which prompted attention in the arts world. He has received awards for his work and was recently interviewed on CNN, The New York Times, and the New Yorker.  Read More 
Protecting Immigrant Families: Anticipated Public Benefits Proposed Rule 

Immigrant advocates fear a rule change to public benefits would endanger immigrant families, by forcing them to choose between meeting basic needs and keeping their family together in the U.S. The proposed change by the Department of Homeland Security would require immigration caseworkers to consider a much wider range of factors when evaluating whether someone is likely to be dependent on public assistance. In addition to forms of cash welfare assistance already used in such cases, it would add the "non-cash" benefits used by more than one-fifth of the U.S. population, both foreign- and native-born.  Want to take action?  Sign the Petition Here! 
Read more  here and here

Arturo Rodriguez on the fight to improve the lives of America's farm workers 

The president of the United Farm Workers of America has won union contracts with large growers, but conditions for laborers must improve or we won't have any more agricultural workers, he warns  

The Hands That Feed Us

How farmworkers nationally are faring in an age of rising temperatures, immigration crack-downs, housing insecurity and uncertainty. 

A t the height of a sweltering afternoon in late July, more than a hundred people descended from a caravan of air-conditioned Blue Star buses onto Oregon Sen. Chuck Thomsen's (R-Hood River) Hood River Valley orchard. They were there to tour several rows of modest labor housing nestled in a grove of pear trees on the senator's family farm. 

The housing wasn't impressive, but it wasn't dilapidated either. Closer to the size of tool sheds than typical ...

Milk with Dignity: It's a Thing 
WATERBURY, Vt. (WCAX) Ben & Jerry's and the group Migrant Justice say an agreement that the ice cream company signed last year to improve pay and working conditions of laborers on farms that provide the company milk has been a success during trying dairy times. Ben & Jerry's signed the "Milk with Dignity" agreement last October, believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S. dairy industry.
The company pays a premium to participating farmers who agree to certain labor and housing standards, including meeting Vermont's minimum wage, offering five paid sick days, five paid vacation days a year and at least one day off a week.
The company says all 72 farms in its Northeast supply chain have enrolled in the program. And they say more than 300 farmworkers and farmers have participated in education sessions. The company would not say how much farmers get paid to follow the program's requirements.   Read more  
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