It is estimated that over 80% of the farm workers in this country are immigrants, with estimates anywhere from 48% to 79% as being in the country illegally. Part of this has to do with slow-downs in issuing H2A and H2B visas for temporary farm work, or the lack of employers who can guarantee that 75% of the farm workers' time will be filled with work at one area. It's also been said that these workers do the work that will not be done by citizens within the United States, often because they will take a lower wage for what everyone describes as back-breaking work.
We will leave the questions of legality versus illegality for the politicians, or for Ceasar, unto whom we render those things due.
As Episcopals, we are concerned with people - with families, with children's education, with housing, feeding and caring for those who come to work at the farms in the United States.
This article documents stories of farm workers in the 1960s in Connecticut, traveling from Puerto Rico to find any job they can. The historical perspective is interesting to read about.
North Carolina has an Episcopal Farmworker Ministry, which details the areas of need for the farm workers in that part of the country. One of the other churches in that area has a ministry called Bag of Hope that provides the very basics for the migrant workers at a low cost.
Focusing on the verse: Whatsoever you do to the least of these my sisters and brothers that you do unto me.” (Matt 25:35), the Bishop for the Episcopal Church in Vermont issued a press release highlighting the needs of migrant workers.
No matter what one's political beliefs, the difficulties faced by farm workers, most of whom are migrant workers, are here, and provide an area of service that we can help to fill.