Written by Yelisa Ambriz
The Migrant Housing Center recently partnered with the Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN) and other organizations for their second resource fair, aimed at providing crucial support and resources for migrant workers.
At the resource fair, migrant workers were offered housing support, aid on enrolling in medical services, know your rights information, the event even taking into account the migrant children’s well being, with a traveling library also in attendance distributing information on accessing online educational resources. Susana Canseco who organized the Halloween themed event says “she’s extremely appreciative for all the agencies and organizations that participated in this outstanding event that brought together migrant workers who, season after season, travel from Salinas and other counties to work on various crops in the fields of Madera.”
The Pomona Migrant Center is one of the few centers that continue to house farmworkers in California for the temporary work season spanning from June to October. However, to reside in the 50 unit gated complex farmworkers must meet income requirements, prove they are agricultural workers, and live 50 miles away to qualify for state subsidized housing.
Unfortunately, due to this “50 mile rule”, once the season concludes workers and their children are forced to migrate leaving the communities that they established, essentially disrupting their children’s educational schedule.
In 2018, Anna Caballero corrected this detrimental policy by issuing a waiver allowing fifty percent of the housing to be made available to school aged children all year round. The other fifty percent would need to remain vacant unless re-approved by the legislature; the waiver is set to expire in 2024.
CCEJN has been at the forefront continuously advocating to empower and educate rural communities who are often left out of political discussions like these by pushing community members to engage in community organizing and dialogue that uplift their priorities. For farmworkers, that can consist of insufficient farmworker resources, lack of enforcement from labor agencies, or language accessibility.
As a well seasoned organization, CCEJN has heard and documented numerous accounts of farmworker concerns over the years. Through dedicated efforts, legislative advocacy, educational involvement, and mobilization of community members CCEJN aims to ensure accountability for farmworker communities.
In the upcoming months there will be multiple opportunities to raise awareness on farmworker issues, with particular attention to the February 2024 Assembly Legislative Labor Hearing on Agricultural workers in Sacramento.