Immigrant agricultural workers in South Florida are often subject to environmental risks such as heat stress and chronic pesticide exposure.
The Homestead agricultural district has long depended on immigrant labor. Since 2001, drought in Central America linked to climate change has increasingly left agricultural workers with little choice but to emigrate. Some arrive in Homestead without legal status and are therefore subject to abusive conditions, extremely low wages, and even wage theft. Because of their vulnerability, they also hesitate to seek medical care, report problems to authorities, or advocate for themselves in the workplace or in the broader political arena.
WeCount! takes action to defend the rights of workers and the dignity of undocumented persons. WeCount! invests in educating our community, amplifying the voices of workers, and advocating for legislation that will ensure safe working conditions and living wages.
Our Point of View
Many in our interdisciplinary group of architecture and literature students have our own immigration stories, but most of us hadn’t considered the connection between climate change and immigration. Working with WeCount!, we came to understand how the struggle of immigrant agricultural workers is also a struggle for climate justice. Their labor exposes them to heat stress and dangerous pesticides. Their narratives energized us and, we hope, will energize visitors to combat climate change and support legislation to enforce fair and safe conditions in the fields.
—Florida International University
WeCount! empowers immigrant workers in Homestead, Florida. Part of this work is to build coalitions and make our presence and struggles known more widely. Working with FIU students helped us present our clients’ stories in a compelling way to our own community and publicize our mission to a new audience.