Honoring The 8 Farm Workers Who Died On May 14

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We are devastated to hear of the tragic bus accident that took the lives of eight farm workers and injured so many more in Marion County, FL on May 14. Of those that were injured, eight are still in critical condition. The workers and their families are in our thoughts and prayers. 

“We are heartbroken,” Julie Taylor, Executive Director of NFWM told Ocala Star Banner. “When farm workers are killed or injured in these kinds of situations, we worry about several things. For example, many farm workers don’t have health insurance. Also, we worry about the families: When the injured people don’t work, the families often are left without income. How will the families cope?”

We recognize that eight lives were ended, and they represent eight families who will be forever impacted by this tragedy. Similarly, farm workers who were injured in this accident also face incredible challenges both from the trauma of this event as well as concerns about their access to health care for treatment and recovery. 

Even though farm workers play an essential role, they are too often treated as if they are disposable. Whether in the fields or on the road, the safety of farm workers is not prioritized as it should be, and far too many farm workers are injured or killed each year. We know the accident is still being investigated, but we hope that every safety measure was in place during the transportation of these workers. We know there is still much to be done to improve transportation safety in the agriculture sector. 

One of the additional concerns we have for farm workers in Florida is that state laws require hospitals to ask questions about citizenship, which intimidates undocumented persons from seeking medical care, even when they need it, for fear they may be detained and deported. While reports say that the farm workers in this accident were authorized to work in the US, we recognize that many farm workers in the U.S. and Florida are undocumented. This is a major concern to those of us who advocate with and for farm workers as well as other migrants/immigrants. People are not required to answer regarding their immigration status, but this law is just one more example of policies that force undocumented immigrants to live in constant fear. Learn more about the impact of immigration.

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