As you know, the agricultural industry in America largely depends on migrant workers. Many immigrants from Mexico, Puerto Rico and elsewhere come to the United States to find a better life. Often, they start out in a skilled labor industry, such as agriculture or construction. You also know that you and your family can hope for a better future here, but you might have to work hard to realize your dreams. Unfortunately, many migrants in Louisiana suffer mistreatment from their employers because they can use their workers’ fear of deportation or lack of knowledge to exploit them.
You should understand that you have as much right to be treated with dignity and respect as anyone who was born in America, regardless of your immigration status. There are laws that protect migrant workers from companies or individuals who would take advantage of them, but this has not stopped abusive employers from inflicting all manner of hardships on those who work for them. The list of injustices a migrant farm worker might endure include the following:
- Receiving less than minimum wage, or suffering punishment for some slight (often fabricated) by having pay withheld
- Working in inhumane conditions, such as working long hours under the sun without sufficient protective clothing, breaks, shade or water
- Inhumanely long work hours without overtime pay
- Sleeping quarters and bathroom facilities that are below health and safety standards
Additionally, if you speak out against such abuses, your boss might threaten to call immigration authorities to have you deported. This occurs on a regular basis among workers who are undocumented.
Whether you are undocumented or in the country on a work visa, you are attempting to improve your quality of life and support your family. You should have the right to pursue legal status in America, rather than worry about abuse or deportation while you are trying to pay the bills and put food on the table.