PHARR — As Texas shelter-in-place orders are enacted, hundreds of Valley farmworkers are going to work every day harvesting fruits and vegetables to fill shelves at essential grocery stores.
However, many farmworkers are wondering if they will ever receive masks or qualify for emergency aid.
Members of the civil rights advocacy group, LUPE, are calling on lawmakers to help undocumented farmworkers receive essential benefits and protection gear.
According to United Farm Workers, undocumented farmworkers pay taxes but, do not qualify for the stimulus check nor essential benefits.
Lupe RGV Executive Director, Juanita Valdez-Cox, says once farmworkers make their way to the fields, they put themselves and their families at risk. Many of them unable to practice social distancing due to job requirements.
“We cannot believe the legislation came out on the COVID-19 to support people who have lost their jobs and yet people who are still struggling, who are still working in the fields to feed us, to feed this country are not receiving a penny. They are not receiving financial assistance. They are not receiving protective gear. They cannot stay in their homes. They are risking their lives,”– LUPE RGV Executive Director, Juanita Valdez-Cox
LUPE officials have confirmed with CBS 4, an onion field farm south of Pharr has nearly 80 farm workers and only three are wearing masks on the job.
Civil rights advocacy groups are calling on congress to grant farm workers hazard pay.
In the meantime, LUPE advocates are calling on Valley community members, churches and non-profits to sew or purchase masks and make a donation to farmworkers.