Farmworkers Legislation

Legislation Updates for Farmworkers and Immigrants in California

From the introduction of legislation that clarifies existing regulations to the newly planned out allocation of funds, California’s representatives have introduced new bills that affect the lives of immigrant and farmworker communities in the state.

AB 1140, Introduced February 18, 2021:

AB 1140 would ensure the equal protection and treatment of immigrant children in the foster care system who were unaccompanied upon arriving in the country. The bill would recognize the disparity present in the treatment of immigrant children in the foster care system and solidify the state’s role in protecting them. The Ombudperson’s Office would be provided with clearer regulations to look for and the officiation of its role removes the possibility to clear themselves of any accountability. There would be no misunderstandings in its role in processing unaccompanied children, who have been proven to have unequal treatments in the foster care system in comparison to American-born children. Before the bill, there was no clear accommodation to the diverse experience of unaccompanied children and no need for accountability from the government. The bill was recently enrolled on September 15, 2021 and now awaits the signature of the Governor.

 

Electrician working at a construction site in Downtown Los Angeles, California – Al Seib.

 

AB 364, Introduced February 1, 2021

AB 364 is a bill that attempts to combat the human trafficking issue that is present in the state under unethical practices that lures in immigrant workers under false pretenses.The bill would ensure protection from abusive working conditions and unfair pay. Contractors would be required to register with the Labor Commission, which would allow them to be regulated and penalized for any violations. It would address the unfair power dynamic that is present in the relationship between employers and foreign born workers with the liberty that they would have to manipulate and entice workers without a shield of protection. It would put restrictive regulations in place and create a safer environment for workers. 

 

Supporters welcoming people in the U.S.- Mexico border in San Diego – Photo by Bill Wechter.

 

AB 3133, Introduced February 21, 2020

AB 3133 combats the discrimination that refugees may face in the resettlement process in California, having support from the bill to ensure that there is, “no discriminating on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic identified in Section 11135 of the Government Code.” The bill was signed by Governor Newsom and further emphasized the government’s stance on the acceptance of refugees, which is one they hope to make free of any discriminatory undertones. 

Refugees in California are welcomed in their search for peace and temporary protection from life-threatening circumstances in their home country. Once here, these people have historically made significant economic and cultural contributions to our state, including $17 billion in spending power. It is our duty to make sure that refugees feel safe in California, free from discrimination and supported in their efforts to re-establish and reinvent their lives,” said Assembly member Aguiar-Curry who authored the bill. 

 

Photo taken during the 2018 Woosley Fire of workers on an artichoke farm without any respiratory protection.
Courtesy of CAUSE.

 

AB 73, Introduced December 2020

AB 73 would create an accessible allocation of information and resources to farmworkers during wildfires, which disproportionately affect this community of predominantly non-English speaking immigrant workers. The bill would make sure that each region has the appropriate resources for the diverse communities that work in the fields. Language differences and digital literacy issues are just some of the barriers that the community faces when dealing with these disasters. As other communities that are taken into account, many are able to receive the information and resources needed to prepare and deal with the issue. Without proper allocation of resources, underserved communities, most specifically of color, are less likely to have access to this information and therefore at a disadvantage of getting the help they need. The bill was enrolled on September 15, 2021.

 

Carrot field in Kern County, California in 2015 – Photo taken by Frederic J. Brown.

 

 AB 125, Introduced December 18, 2020:

The Food and Farm Resilience Bond Act ensures that programs of assistance are placed to alleviate the effects of the COVID pandemic on the agricultural industry. The bill would ensure the allocation of funds to the reinvigoration of the market’s infrastructure, worker safety measures and the improvement of farming practice that would lead to a more sustainable and efficient environment. It would address the negative impacts of the COVID pandemic on the livelihood of farmworkers and the hardships they faced as a result of harmful farming practices. It would also ensure that the agricultural sector is efficient in their contributions to the economy as well as the well-being of the environment. The bill would be a gradual distribution of assistance but ultimately aims to be passed in the 2022 general elections. 

 


Kimberly Gabriela Martinez | University of California, Irvine

Kimberly is an undergraduate student majoring in Political Science at UCI. She grew up in a predominantly Latinx community in Southeast LA and is the daughter of two Honduran immigrants. Having seen the obstacles that many immigrants face first-hand has inspired her to pursue a career in immigration law. She hopes to amplify the voices of those in the community during a time where immigration has become one of the most polarizing issues in modern politics. Making sure that underrepresented stories and voices are heard is important in removing the negative stigma around the immigrant community and she hopes to contribute to this change.