Child Farmworkers Deserve an Equal Chance at Immigration Waivers

Child cotton worker in US

Target: Obama Administration

Goal: Review immigration waiver requirements to allow child farmworkers the chance to naturalize.

It is common knowledge that the U.S. agricultural industry depends on immigrant labor. What people don’t realize is that hundreds of thousands of children, often starting full-time at age 11 or 12, are working in the fields. Many of these children have been here since birth and are “American” in every way except citizenship. Their parents, working on farms, must relocate often to follow jobs. This means school-age children often switch schools 2 or 3 times a year and become undereducated as a result. In many cases, children leave school altogether in order to support their families.

US federal law allows children to legally work in agriculture at younger ages, for longer hours and under more hazardous conditions than other working children. Many of them are U.S. citizens, but there are also plenty of unauthorized migrant children. To be eligible for immigrant waivers, applicants must be in school, have graduated from high school or have a GED, or be an honorably discharged veteran. Honor roll students who know no other personal reference in the United States are being denied the chance to naturalize because they do not already have a degree. What sense does this make? If the children receive a waiver or deferment, as eventual citizens their parents would earn decent pay, permanent residence, and their children would meet their full potential. Tell the Obama administration to revise immigration waiver requirements so that young farmworkers can continue to live with their families on U.S. soil.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Obama administration,

It is no mystery that U.S. agriculture relies upon immigrant workers. Hundreds of thousands of them are responsible for the fruits and vegetables we so regularly consume. Applicants for immigration waivers must be in school, have graduated from high school or have a GED, or be honorably discharged veterans. Many child farmworkers have been bounced around with their parents, searching for work and have no proof of residence inside of your requirements.

Understand that the parameters that have been laid out are bad for immigrant children working in farms for the good of the American economy for very little compensation. Allow them to receive immigration waivers for eventual naturalization and integration into American society, their only reality thus far. Do not deny them the opportunity to receive the waiver benefits because the proof they must provide has been denied of them. They have not had equal opportunites for education because of their family’s employment situation and extreme poverty. They are uneducated because of their existence in this cycle of moving for low-paying agriculture jobs within the US. Extend these productive workers the same deferment given to the educated and the veterans. Give them a chance to serve America as our citizens proudly do.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: AP

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One Comment

  1. These kids, who really belong in school, really sacrifice for us. They deserve every and any benefit we have to offer.

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