¡Sí Se Puede!
Behind the signs, little evidence of COVID-19 prevention measures
at Migrant Camps
Face masks hang on a clothesline after being washed at a migrant camp in Sparta, MI in late July. Masks are in short supply
Signs urging for social distancing at a camp in Sparta, MI.
"My grandpa had a phrase for someone who talked big but had nothing to show for it, he would say, "That man is all hat and no cattle'," said Teresa Hendricks, Director of Migrant Legal Aid. "I'm reminded of that as I visit labor camps this season."

MLA has seen lots of COVID-19 information postings, but not much evidence of actual prevention measures. That's what we're finding on our 3x/week outreach visits to migrant housing. COVID-19 is a prominent concern in dense housing arrangements like migrant labor camps. Prevention measures, although suggested by Executive Order 2020-137, are too often disregarded. Many camps like this one had the paper COVID postings, but closer inspection of the housing units and common areas showed no partitions between beds, no disinfectant in housing and common areas, no signs of supplies of PPE. Workers try to stretch the use of delicate surgical masks by washing and drying them. We find conditions that range from the "chupa-cabra" rare scenario of very clear COVID-19 precautionary measures in place that allow for adequate social distancing within housing, to almost no sign of any plans in action. We have been passing out hundreds of safety kits with packets of masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to do our part in helping offset the lax compliance and enforcement that enables the spread within the farmworker community.
FRONTLINE covered "COVID's Hidden Toll" in the feature they aired on July 21, examining how the pandemic has hurt immigrants and undocumented workers. The documentary specifically looks at how COVID-19 has affected essential farm and meat-packing workers who are not adequately protected.

Watch the 50 minute documentary here.
sanitizer, gloves, and safety resource information and phone numbers specific to our migrant population.
You can help here
#FiveForFarmworkers is our campaign providing COVID-19 Farmworker Safety Kits to the migrant community. The campaign began during asparagus season and will continue through the end of apple season. If PPE, masks, and safety information is helping to save lives, then it's good to know we've delivered over 1,000 of them so far to our farmworkers, with help from you! A $5 donation contributes to our efforts of delivering sanitized PPE to farmworkers (four packs of cloth masks, hand sanitizer, gloves), and safety resource information and phone numbers specific to our migrant population.
You can help our efforts here.
Summer Outreach, Masked and Disinfected
We are masked up and armed with disinfectant on our outreach trips three days a week this summer. Here is one of our interns, Esperanza Garcia, after a non-contact drop off of our farmworker safety kits.

Our second full month of outreach flew by and we are surpassing the number of camp we visited last summer. In eight weeks we have passed out 1,317
COVID-19 Farmworker Safety Kits, spoken with 554 workers, and visited 270 camps!

The #FiveForFarmworkers fundraiser is continuing into the coming months. Thanks to everyone who donated $5 which buys one COVID-19 Farmworker Safety Kit with a masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and our legal information with safety literature specific to farmwork conditions. The safety kits are pre-sanitized and sealed before distribution, and re-sanitized after a no-contact delivery. Workers should be given masks by their employer but they quickly wear out and adequate replacements are not prevalent. #SpreadOnlyLove Here's how you can help.

Our adaptation to the COVID-19 pandemic includes new extended office hours, including phone and video consultations through WhatsApp, Facetime, and/or Zoom for tele-legal services. Clients will still have instant reliable access to attorneys and can text our office phone at (616) 303-1529 at any hour or call (616) 454-5055 until 10 pm.
Welcome Karen!
Karen graduated in December of 2019 from Ferris State University with a major in criminal justice. She is currently working on my master's in criminal justice administration at Ferris State University, on track to complete it in the summer of 2021. Karen has a passion for her community, and is currently working on a project with her sorority to bring cultural awareness to the Hispanic and African American community. In her free time she enjoys walks by the beach and is always helping others. Her overall goal is to become a detective and work towards making a change and representing her community within the criminal justice system. 

Help us welcome the newest member of the Migrant Legal Aid team.
Your copy should address 3 key questions: Who am I writing for?
A Socially Distant Harvest of Justice 2020
A virtual event, virtually presented! Our annual Harvest of Justice fundraising event will be happening live, and on-line this fall. That means the invite list can be friends from any state or country with wifi access. Save the Date September 23, 2020,noon to 1.

You won't want to miss this lunch hour with the legend, Ms. Dolores Huerta, American labor leader and civil rights activist, live, and on video, as we showcase the human value of farmworkers in Michigan and the nation, and the inspiring rise of our clients in their pursuit of justice.

Think bigger this year! Do you have out-of-state friends that can now join you at this event?. Thank you to everyone who has supported our event in the past and let's make this year even bigger and brighter.

Watch for the eventbrite invite coming soon. More details will follow. @MigrantLegalAidMI as we approach the official date of the event.
A photo of our in-person Harvest of Justice in 2019. We are hoping for a similar
attendance--even if everyone is attending online!
Why Do You #MaskUp?
We asked our staff why they feel it's important to mask up during the pandemic. Everyone has their reason, whether personal or public. #MaskUpMichigan

Help Migrant Farmworkers Mask up here.
Check out what our staff said and tell us why you mask up here.
Workers in Sparta, MI prune apple trees in late July. Some work--like picking apples--can provide space for adequate social distancing if workers pick entire rows alone. But often, most tasks put workers very close together, putting individuals at risk for COVID-19.
August 13, 2020, MLA's director finished filming a Spanish language census-boosting program for Hispanic/latinx audiences, hosted by air-talent Rosa Morales, and co-presented with fellow panelists Javier Cervantes, Communications Coordinator, Grand Rapids Public Schools and Juan Carlos Farias-Gonzalez, Director of Hispanic Ministry for the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids. The program will be available on-line soon and will be shareable. The deadline to fill out Census 2020 is October 31. census.gov
Migrant Legal Aid named Partner Agency of the Year by
Heart of West Michigan United Way
We are honored to be named Partner Agency of the Year by Heart of West Michigan United Way for the
2019-2020 year!

We could not do what we do without the vital help from United Way and we are grateful for their continued support of our efforts to help the migrant farmworker community and help rid the supply chain of exploitation.
Public Health Order Creates Discord Among Farmworkers
A Farmworker-Empowering Executive Order?

On June 1, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order stating that employers should take measures to protect their farm workers from COVID-19, such as providing personal protective equipment (PPE), adjusting employer-provided housing to allow for social distancing, providing more hand washing stations at work sites, partitions between beds, isolation housing and more. On June 29, 2020, the Order was extended to November 1, 2020, to cover the end of seasonal work. MLA supports Gov. Whitmer's efforts to protect farm workers. MLA is not aware of any reports of noncompliance being enforced in a way that resulted in a civil monetary penalty. Where's the teeth?

A Farmworker-Punitive Public Health Order

Disparate Treatment, threat of job loss? On August 3, 2020, Public Health Director Gordan issued an order that mandates that farmworkers, being Hispanics -as mentioned in his press release-- face the consequence of job loss (prohibited in-person work) if they do not submit to testing (even if they are asymptomatic, healthy, and haven't been exposed to COVID-19 infected co-workers), or were prohibited from in-person work. Many workers have contacted us and expressed concern for being singled out and ethnically targeted, forced to take medical tests they' didn't need or want, and which were not medically necessary, being exposed to COVID-19 in the process of getting tested, losing their job and employer-provided housing, losing peak earnings when not infected, and questions about why this is only applicable to them. Click to read the updated executive order here.

Some growers and workers filed suit in Federal Court, while other workers have referred their complaint to the Department of Justice.

Read Migrant Legal Aid's Position Statement here
Learning Center or Safety Kit Factory?
Packs of four cloth, reusable masks labeled with our logo that are passed out to farmworkers while our team does weekly outreach.
Safety kits are flying out of the office faster than our interns can pack them! We have passed out 1,317 in eight weeks.

A huge thank you to Justice for Migrant Women for the incredible gift of 12,000 reusable masks, made perfect for farmworkers.

We are including a pack in every one of farmworker safety kits for the rest of the season.
Thank You to our 2020 Summer Interns
This Summer at MLA we had a team of five amazing interns, all dedicated to protecting Michigan's farmworkers. All of them helped out on outreach but also ran our social media and website, helped with case work, organized outreach trips, helped out with out summer events and everything in between! Check out information on internships here.
Thank you Esperanza, De'Chelle, Halsey, Hope, and Lupita for your hard work this summer at MIgrant Legal Aid! We are excited about everything you accomplished!