“We sacrifice so much for a country that doesn’t value our lives.” —Alma Patty Tzalain
Two weeks ago, Alma Patty Tzalain, a member of the New York State-based immigrant farmworker group Alianza Agrícola, penned a powerful op-ed for The New York Times. In it, she gave voice to the palpable insecurity many immigrant workers—whose jobs, but not their lives, are deemed “essential”—are feeling throughout the country:
I am one of the thousands of farmworkers across the country making sure there is still food to put on your tables. Since I came to New York from Guatemala 11 years ago, I have cleaned cabbage in a packing shed, milked cows on dairy farms, trimmed apple trees in orchards and wrapped and pruned tomatoes in a greenhouse.
If I get sick with Covid-19, I’m afraid of what it will mean for my children, my compañeros and my community. But unlike many other workers in the United States, my workplace has not shut down. Farmworkers are considered essential, and yet we are left out of government support.
This May Day, we may not be able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the streets, but our responsibility to our fellow workers is greater than ever—to speak out and demand that all workers regardless of immigration status are protected, valued, and treated with dignity during this pandemic and beyond. From the meat processing plants that have become key COVID-19 hotspots to warehouses, produce fields, and grocery stores, we must make it clear: Food workers are not disposable.
In community and solidarity,
Christina, Anna, Tiffani, and Tanya