A Lawyer Explains the Struggles Faced by Migrant Farm Workers

To get a more in-depth look, we called Jenifer Rodriguez, Colorado Legal Services' Managing Attorney of the Migrant Farm Worker Division, who specializes in assisting these vulnerable workers.
Interview (Colorado)

Sarah Bellman
November 11, 2016

Tags: Farm and Migrant Workers

Organizations mentioned/involved: Colorado Legal Services


VICE: What obstacles do migrant sheepherders endure?
Jenifer Rodriguez: Usually, the workers that come to us are having problems with their employment or are dealing with a work-related injury. Oftentimes, because they’re very isolated, they don’t have communication with anybody other than their employer—even if they have a cell phone, they may not have a signal. So if they’re injured and aren’t able to get the medical treatment that they need, they reach out for help. There are some instances of mistreatment, too—like, complete neglect.

Would you say it’s harder for migrant workers to work in sheepherding than agriculture?
Sheepherders go straight to the ranch that they’ll be working on. They really don’t have a sense of where their consulate is or where the cities and hospitals are, so they aren’t assimilated at all. They have to rely on the employers for everything—food, water, the right clothes for the weather, and medical care. Because they’re in the middle of nowhere and so dependent on their employer, it’s not logistically easy to get out of that situation. There’s a lot of things you have to consider: “Where am I?” “How am I going to get someone to help me?” “What am I going to do for food and water?” “Where am I going to stay if I leave?” There’s way more obstacles to seek assistance if they find themselves in a bad situation.