Jun 9, 2021Hotline helps Florida farmworkers during pandemic
Florida farmworkers statewide can call a toll-free number, 1-844-44FARMWORKERS (OR 1-844-443-2769) to get free legal assistance with issues on the rise because of the COVID-19 crisis, including access to vaccines.
Florida Rural Legal Services (FRLS), a non-profit law firm, launched the line specifically catered to the needs of Florida farmworkers, with a live response team available during extended hours and communication in three languages.
“We are proud of this opportunity to provide emergency services to migrant farmworkers statewide,” Jaffe Pickett, executive director of FRLS, said in a news release. “We realized that because of the pandemic, these essential workers, who already face many challenges, are now in emergency situations and our goal is to ensure there are no barriers to accessing critical services from our migrant unit. FRLS was founded to provide services to farmworkers, so this is full circle for us to provide a resource to farmworkers at a time when they need us more than ever.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has added a myriad of legal issues our farmworker communities already faced. Due to the pandemic, farmworkers, especially migrant workers, are being denied unemployment, food stamps and other public benefits they might normally get, putting them in desperate circumstances. In addition, they have had to work closely together without proper PPE. The corona virus has exacerbated other issues that have been occurring for years, including wage theft, discrimination, human trafficking and physical abuse. Now, farmworkers are also facing discrimination and obstacles with receiving Covid-19 vaccines.
In Florida, 60% of farmworkers are Hispanic, 20-30% are Haitian and 20% are English-speaking. FRLS FARMWORKERS HOTLINE, has greetings in English, Spanish and Creole and callers are directed for assistance in the language requested. Callers can speak with migrant unit team members in person between 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
Non-profit organizations providing assistance to farmworkers are also encouraged to call the hotline for information and to make referrals. FRLS also assists their members and the organization’s staff, said Migrant Farmworker Advocacy Director, Roberto Cruz.
FRLS assists community-based associations, non profits, and groups with community development legal needs. Our advocacy supports grassroots organizations and promotes community-based neighborhood improvements such as revitalization, economic development and small business growth.
FRLS began services in 1966 through Shriver Center funding under a project which was a success and quickly expanded. FRLS continues its critical services to migrant farmworkers statewide.
Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc. is a non-profit law firm dedicated to providing quality civil legal advice, representation and education for low-income people and communities. In addition to front line services, FRLS provides advice, pro se assistance, legal representation in civil matters as well as community outreach and education and community legal clinics through its seven regional offices throughout Central and South Florida and provides services to farmworkers statewide.