Hispanic Heritage Month Comes to a Close: Fight for Farmworker Children Continues

Since 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month has been celebrated annually from September 15 through October 15.  This year’s national theme was “Heritage, Diversity, Integrity and Honor: The Renewed Hope of America.” AFOP’s Children in the Fields Campaign joined in the festivities by hosting events focused on seasonal and migrant farmworkers and their families in order to bring attention to the issues surrounding the farmworker community, especially the legal exploitation of Hispanic children working in agriculture.

 

On September 17, Poder Juvenil Campesino, the Children in the Fields Campaign’s youth council in North Carolina, kicked off their photo exhibit at Durham’s Golden Belt Gallery. The following day, Holy Mole! The Spirit of Food and the People Behind It, an event organized by CIF Campaign’s community coalition NC FIELD took place. It included a cooking demonstration of mole and other Mexican delicacies and featured an informative discussion on the plight of farmworker children on both a state level and a national level.

In South Texas, a region where a large percentage of the country’s migrant farmworkers call home, the Children in the Fields Campaign’s local community coalition hosted the resource fair Venga al “PAN DULCE” Conference 2010 with Workforce Development and the University of Texas-Pan American on September 25. Next weekend, CIF Campaign will be in San Juan, Texas, to celebrate El Dia del Migrante at the Virgen de San Juan National Shrine.

When discussing the role Hispanics play in the U.S., it can range from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the invisible children harvesting our blueberries for pennies. The U.S. Department of Education data continuously shows a correlation between a child’s education and their economic status, usually tied to their race, shining a bright spotlight on the racial disparaties of our nation. Our partner, the National Council of La Raza published a staggering report last week on the poverty levels in which Hispanic children are living. With 1 out of every 3 Hispanic children living in poverty, it’s no surprise the education of Hispanic children is falling behind. All of the factors that are detrimental to a child’s education, including food scarcity, immigration status, and dire poverty, affect at once a particularly vulnerable population of Hispanic children – farmworker children.

What many might find surprising is that 92% of Hispanic children are U.S. citizens, as stated in a briefing held at the Center for American Progress by Half in Ten and NCLR. So this isn’t purely a problem for the Hispanic community, but a real issue of concern for all Americans.

The Children in the Fields Campaign advocates on behalf of this particularly affected population of Hispanic children, so they too can break the cycle of poverty and one day be the next Supreme Court Justice. The only way this can be achieved is to get these children out of the fields and into schools where they can focus on getting an education.  For ways to get involved with our campaign today, visit the Children in the Fields section of our Web site. Help us protect our children’s well-being and heritage.

 

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About Norma Flores López, Director of the Children in the Fields Campaign

Norma Flores López is the Director of the Children in the Fields Campaign at AFOP. Additionally, Norma serves as the Chair of the Domestic Issues Committee for the Child Labor Coalition. She has long been an active advocate for migrant farmworker children’s rights and continues to raise awareness of migrant farmworker issues across the country in her current role. Norma has also had the opportunity testify to Congress and has appeared on national news outlets on issues related to child labor in agriculture. In addition to her years of experience as an advocate, Norma has invaluable firsthand experience with farmworker issues. Growing up as a child of a migrant farmworker family from South Texas, she began working in the fields at the age of 12, where she continued working until she graduated from high school. Prior to joining at AFOP in 2009, Norma worked managing national and local clients at public relations firms. Norma graduated from the University of Texas Pan-American in Edinburg, Texas, with a B.A. in Communications and studied abroad at the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain.
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