Despite “essential” designation and reports of increased COVID cases among farmworkers, last three Congressional COVID-19 relief packages have failed to designate additional funds to address unique needs of children of migrant farmworkers
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined a bicameral group of 16 Democratic lawmakers colleagues in sending a letter to Senate leadership asking for increased funding dedicated to supporting the unique needs of the children of migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic as a part of the next congressional relief package.
More than 300,000 children relocate throughout the country with their families who are seeking seasonal agricultural work multiple times throughout the year. Thus, there is an acute need to provide funding support for migrant children because the schools and summer programs that farmers typically rely on for childcare are shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Public health and medical services funding are also critical to address the disproportionate spread of COVID-19 through migrant farmworker communities, which are predominantly Hispanic and among the most vulnerable populations currently suffering from the pandemic.
“The security of our nation’s food supply hinges on migrant farmworkers,” the lawmakers wrote. “Yet none of the COVID-19 relief packages that Congress has passed so far this year have included funding specifically supporting the children of migrant farmworkers. As harvesting season approaches for much of the country, and as increasing reports emerge of COVID-19 outbreaks at farm and meat processing facilities, there is an urgent need to strengthen public supports for migrant children. Supplemental funding for the ESSA Title I, Part C Migrant Education Program and the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program would leverage existing programs to meet this pressing demand.”
The lawmakers requested an additional $300 million for the Migrant Education Program (MEP) and $350 million for the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program (MSHS) in the next COVID-19 supplemental package to:
The letter was also signed by Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore), as well as Representatives Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), and James McGovern (D-Mass.).
Full text of the letter is available here.