This is a re-broadcast of a news story from WAMC, Northeast Public Radio. Commenting in this story is Owen Thompson, Farmworker Legal Services of New York, Inc. Please note that FLSNY is not responsible for the content of this story other than the comments made by Owen. The title of this story uses the phrase “illegal workers”. FLSNY does not support the use of this term to identify workers who may not possess documents that satisfy the United States government requirements to work in the U.S.
Owen, outreach worker for Farmworker Legal Services of New York, Inc., participates in a continuing conversation with Peg about human trafficking.
Last month, representatives from the Farmworker Legal Services of New York (FLSNY) conducted a free, online training (see below for WebEx link) for members of Rescue & Restore focused on human trafficking and the farmworker community. FLSNY underscored the conditions that may lead migrant workers into forced labor situations. The training also highlighted the need for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and service providers to train their members on working with the migrant farmworker community and connecting to local agencies that can provide immediate and long-term assistance to victims.
The most dangerous employment in New York State is to work as a farm worker. Back-breaking hours in the field should be followed by comfortable living arrangements, hot showers, and good food. Is this what migrant and seasonal farm workers can look forward to after a 10 to 12 hour day in the fields? Not a chance… Jim gives us the real story of working and living conditions for farm workers in New York.
65 years we’ve been importing men as cattle while we rattle their existence like they’re enemies in battle…
Since 2002, New York State has required applicants for a New York State driver license to have a valid social security number. Governor Eliot Spitzer changed that requirement to allow applicants to present a foreign passport as proof of identity, thus providing a mechanism for hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants to be issued a driver license. Many people see this as a positive step for migrant and seasonal farm workers. Jim Schmidt talks about the issue and how migrant and seasonal farm workers have been the victim of discriminatory policies because of the post 9/11 politics of fear.
Renowned documentary film maker Robert Bilheimer Meets with FLSNY to discuss his latest feature length film, Not My Life, Slavery in our time
Robert Bilheimer, President of Worldwide Documentaries, is a world-renown, Oscar nominated director of films that delve into the human tragedies of today’s global community. In 1989 his film, Cry of Reason, about South African anti-apartheid leader was nominated for an Academy Award. His 2003 feature-length film A Closer Walk focused on the global AIDS epidemic. He visited Farmworker Legal Services to interview FLSNY staff for his latest project on human trafficking and modern-day slavery. In his film, Not My Life, Slavery in our time, he takes us on a journey into the depravity of trafficking, its global roots, and its pervasiveness.
Global does not mean every place outside of the United States. Global does not mean New York State is exempt from trafficking. On the contrary, Mr. Bilheimer is here today because FLSNY daily reaches out to agricultural workers in New York State to investigate human trafficking.
Human trafficking, modern day slavery, is pervasive in the farm worker community. FLSNY is the key player in combating human trafficking. Renan actively investigates incidents of trafficking. Listen to his first-hand account of his day to day activities.
Jim Schmidt, former director of FLSNY, talks about the history of the farm worker movement in New York State.