For Immediate Release
Date: February 1, 2022
Contact: Neza Xiuhtectuli, General Coordinator, Farmworker Association of Florida
Apopka, FL – The Farmworker Association of Florida is responding to an incident yesterday in Maitland, FL related to several buses of young men that arrived at a hotel in Maitland, apparently alarming several members of the local community, who began posting videos and comments on social media. After verification, FWAF would like to inform the community, allay any fears, and clarify misinformation surrounding the incident. The young men are among the most recent arrivals in our area of H2A agricultural “guest workers,” who enter our country legally under a program that grants U.S. work visas to people from other countries to fulfill the labor needs of our state’s vibrant and critical agricultural industry. Agriculture is a difficult, labor-intensive, and physically demanding job. The work requires a strong, young, and capable workforce. Misinformation has spread that the workers are here illegally and are victims of human trafficking. This is false; the H2A guestworker program has existed for decades, is nationwide, and is a program that the agricultural industry increasingly relies on to do the agricultural jobs in Florida and around the country, from Florida to North Carolina, New Jersey to Texas, and many other states.
We know, from the COVID pandemic, that farmworkers are essential workers, whose work is deemed critical and indispensable to the nation’s economy and to our society. Local growers and agricultural businesses depend on their work to produce the products that we all rely on. The workers who arrived yesterday are doing the hard and difficult work for long hours each day to keep our thriving vegetable crops, citrus, and ornamental plant industries viable and productive. In these days of harsh cold and freezing temperatures threatening acres and acres of agricultural products, the men at the center of this community concern are doing the backbreaking work of securing greenhouses and nurseries from extreme drops in temperatures, covering plants, and preparing them to withstand the cold, and meeting the needs of planting, cultivating, packing, hauling and shipping some of Central Florida’s most coveted agricultural products. The Apopka area deems itself “The Indoor Foliage Capital of the World.” This claim to fame is dependent on the work of the H2A seasonal workers.
The Farmworker Association would like to invite all our fellow community members in Central Florida to join us in welcoming and supporting these courageous and hard-working young men to our area, and to thank them for their labor that is vital to our local businesses. Farmworkers feed the world, let us give them the thanks and respect they deserve.
To learn more about the H2A agricultural work visa program, you can go to: https://www.dhs.gov/h-2a-temporary-agricultural-worker-program