As discussed in GCIR’s program, Building Immigrant & Worker Power in Rural America, immigrants and refugees add to the diversity of rural communities and help mitigate the negative impacts of a rapidly aging population while also enlivening local economies. The availability of work in manufacturing and agriculture has contributed to the considerable growth of immigrant populations in these communities, with nearly 75% of all farmworkers in the United States being foreign-born.
However, agricultural work is one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S., and nearly 77% of farm-related injuries and illnesses go unreported. Among the estimated two million agricultural workers in the nation, 10,000 to 20,000 are treated for pesticide injuries each year. Agricultural workers are also particularly vulnerable to pulmonary disease, musculoskeletal disorders, hearing loss, stress, and transportation incidents. Fewer than half of all farmworkers and fewer than a quarter of undocumented farmworkers have health insurance.
Many of these workers lack access to preventative healthcare, have fear of discrimination, have limited access to transportation, and lack information about available healthcare services. Additionally, more than two and a half years into the pandemic, agricultural workers are particularly susceptible to infectious diseases because of the long periods of time they spend in close contact with other workers, sharing transportation and housing with other workers or family members, and moving from community to community for work. These poor health outcomes are in addition to the numerous migration-related and post-migration stressors that can impact the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being of immigrants and refugees.
Join GCIR for a discussion with immigrant justice movement leaders on how they are working to protect the health, safety, and well-being of immigrant workers in rural communities.