I asked Bruce Goldstein, executive director of Farm Worker Justice, if the administration’s actions against immigrants has deterred injured workers from reporting injuries and filing workers’ compensation claims. He responded:
We have been told for many months from sources all over the country that undocumented farmworkers, due to the ramp-up of immigration enforcement and the highly-publicized anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Administration, are living and working in fear of arrest and deportation, and do not want to take any risks of detection by bringing attention to themselves.
To reduce their risk of detection farmworkers often avoid being in public places and raising an issue with their employers about their conditions, even if they are illegal. The fear of retaliation and deportation has made it difficult for farmworkers to speak with advocates who seek to help them with legal claims unless they have proven to be trustworthy. Even when they are willing to speak, the workers are usually unwilling to press their claim.
There have been a few publicized undocumented farmworkers who have stepped forward and been quite public about it, but that is rare. And because many documented farmworkers have family members and friends who are undocumented, the documented workers often are reluctant to step forward to challenge employer conduct for fear of the repercussion on their co-workers.