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Migrant workers especially suffering during coronavirus crisis


PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) – A segment of the population that is often forgotten and is struggling to survive as everything shuts down in this global pandemic. We’re talking about the farm pickers of Tampa Bay.

While farming is considered essential that doesn’t mean other companies across America aren’t cancelling contracts with farms which in turn have to lay off workers. Many of them often working everyday to put food on the table the next day.

Isaret Jeffers has spent years working with the migrant workers in central Florida. At least twice a week she’ll visit farms in east Hillsborough County bringing aid to her mostly Mexican countrymen.

Since the coronavirus hit Florida she says many migrant workers are no longer working. Some farms have let crops go bad, no longer needed after other companies canceled contracts.

“They have no money, no insurance, nada (nothing),” said Isaret Jeffers with Colectivo Arbol.

No health insurance means they can’t go to the doctor or in the case of many, are undocumented, making them nervous to go to a hospital where they’ll be asked for “papers.”

“A lot of people there have little kids and they don’t have protection. You can’t find gloves, or anything to cover yourself,” said Jeffers.

With government leaders asking people to stay at home, misunderstanding of the order has many migrants hiding indoors; afraid they’ll be arrested or deported.

“So they’re scared that they’ll get in trouble with the police when they’re outside the house,” asked 8 On Your Side’s Marco Villarreal.

“Exactly, because no one signed a paper for them to go outside,” answered Jeffers.

Jeffers says this group of people can’t be forgotten or ignored, we depend on them.

“If they’re not working we don’t have vegetables,” asked Villarreal.

“No! How? You can go to the store. Maybe the store is open, but there’s no vegetables anywhere,” said Jeffers.

For those who would like to help you can visit the Colectivo Arbol Facebook page here, or email Jeffers at


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