Started in 1977 by veteran Chicano movement activists Cipriano Ferrel, Ramón Ramírez, Juan Mendoza, and Larry Kleinman, who among them collectively had experience including work with the UFW and the Colegio César Chávez, the Willamette Valley Immigration Project provided free legal aid to Latinx workers throughout the Willamette Valley, especially in the Woodburn area. Responding to mass deportations happening in farms, factories, and communities across the state, the WVIP provided aid to all facing immigration troubles regardless of their official immigration status and organized political action in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Responding to the need for action defending Latinx laborers beyond legal aid, the WVIP began looking to expand its horizons into labor, housing, and political action by the mid-1980s.
Learn more by visiting UO Libraries Special Collection & Archives and check out digitized primary materials:
The major laws protecting farm workers are the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Safety laws include the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Individual states may have laws that protect agricultural workers that participate in organizations that attempt to collectively bargain, and states may have worker's compensation laws that cover agricultural workers.
Many seasonal, migrant farmworkers have an H-2A visa. The Temporary Agricultural Guest Worker Program (H-2A) is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act. It allows agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of U.S. workers to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. for a short period of time. The major agencies involved with the program are the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division and the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Immigration law is very complicated. The resources below focus on the H-2A program, immigration law generally, issues of migration and belonging and immigration history.
Farmworker advocacy organizations can offer a lot of information on issues affecting agricultural workers. Be aware that because they are advocacy groups, they may be biased towards their cause. Two major U.S. farmworker groups that focus on legal issues are
"Environmental justice is the 'fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.'"