Anti-immigrant sentiment breeding hate, intolerance and bigotry, joint statement says

The current political climate belittles and dehumanizes immigrant farmworkers and vilifies the farmers who hire them, according to a joint statement this week from New York Farm Bureau and an Assembly task force.

“Migrant farmworkers and their families are in constant fear of being profiled, forced from their jobs, detained and pulled apart, all the while not being recognized for their hard work and contributions” to the communities where they live, states NYFB and the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force.

Their release calls for action against racial profiling — and respect and appreciation for immigrant workers and the farmers who hire them.

“More than 46,000 farm laborers, many of them migrant farmworkers, spend long days and months working to create this vital economic activity for our state, to put food on our tables and to support their families,” according to Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, D-Bronx, task force chair, and Jeff Williams, NYFB director of Public Policy. “They are also vital members of their communities; spending their wages in local businesses, housing and paying a variety of state and local taxes.”

Citing economic impact, the statement says these laborers and their farms generate over $1.5 trillion in economic activity, which accounts for $44 billion of New York State’s annual Gross State Product.

“The income produced from agriculture production supports over 206,000 jobs, both on the farm and off, and countless small businesses, which are part of the supply chain that assists our farmers in rural communities across New York.”

According to the statement, which calls for lawmakers to support an anti-racial profiling bill: “Farmers and farmworkers remain the hardest working segment of our economy due to the labor-intensive nature of agriculture production. No other Americans and laborers in any other sector of our economy are confronted daily with the strenuous demands of this industry. Yet the anti-immigrant sentiments so pronounced today are tormenting the labor that is so vital to our rural communities and our state.”

NYFB and the task force call on state leaders to support the anti-racial profiling bill, Assembly bill, A4879. The bill would prohibit police officers from using racial and ethnic profiling. It would require a procedure be established for taking and reviewing complaints against police officers for racial and ethnic profiling; and it would allow an action for injunctive relief and/or damages to be brought against a law enforcement agency, any agent of a law enforcement agency and the supervisor of an agent.

“New Yorkers are a better group of people than what the magnified intolerance of our current politics has projected,” according to NYFB and the task force. “This state has long supported immigrant communities. It is the basis of our heritage as a melting pot of diverse people working together to build a better state and country. Our political leadership and business leaders should forcefully and unequivocally call for immigration reform and denounce the rhetoric that belittles and dehumanizes farmworkers and simultaneously vilifies the farmers who hire them.

“Both the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force and the New York Farm Bureau stand together on this important issue and ask that the goodwill of the majority of our citizenry not be allowed to be sabotaged by hate, intolerance and bigotry.”