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BSG works toward proactive involvement in U.S. legislation

by Tegan Mazur - Copy Editor
Tue, Feb 28th 2017 10:00 pm

Brockport Student Government is reaching out to students to help them interact productively with their elected representatives; Thursday, Feb. 23, BSG held a tabling event at the Seymour College Union from 9:30 a.m. to  2:30 p.m. 

The event is just one of many that BSG has planned on the topic, part of a larger initiative to make students aware and active in the political climate around them. The initiative stems from the recent inauguration of President Donald Trump and his contributions to the current political climate in America. 

Contact Your Representative is going to be a tabling event which will be held every other week. The tabling will have a different focus each time and is aimed at getting students involved with contacting their representatives in government and expressing their desire to have action taken on particular issues in legislature.

The focus of Thursday's tabling was the mistreatment and neglect of migrant farmworkers in America. The table had an informational presentation first, explaining the exploitation migrant workers face and the lack of rights they have access to. It also shed light on the amount of work that migrant workers do for this country to highlight just how unfair and unbalanced the treatment of these people is.

The focus of contacting everyone's representative was to push the importance of Assembly Bill A4189 also known as the "Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act," a bill that has been ignored for four years now. The bill would help to protect and secure rights for migrant workers. Members of BSG who were tabling had a screen shot printed out from the New York State assembly website, which tracks the progress of bills. The screenshot showed that Bill A4189 is not even on the senate's floor calendar, meaning the senate has not even planned to talk about the bill as of yet. 

Christopher Rivera, is particularly disturbed by the amount of time this bill has gone unnoticed by politicians, "The fact that it has been in committee for four years is like, what has congress been doing these past for years to not give migrant workers the rights that they deserve?" Rivera said.

Members tabling also had a printed out excerpt from saf-unite.org. The excerpt from the website was information on migrant farm working. It chronicled the issue all the way from the 1600's to the present and also gave information on the factor which lead to people immigrating to the U.S. for farm work. The excerpt differentiated between "push" and "pull" factors that contribute, meaning factors that are undesirable in migrant workers' own countries, as well as factors in the U.S. that seem more appealing to them than their present circumstances. Common myths about migrant farm workers were also listed in order to dispel any confusion about them. One of which is the myth that migrant farmworkers do not pay taxes, which is untrue.

The main purpose of the event was for students to contact their representative. The tabling event provided a formal letter students could fill out with their name. Those running the tabling helped students find the name of their specific representative by using a website with the ability to tell people their particular representative based on their address and area code. The letter urged whatever representative to do everything they could to get Bill A4189 onto the floor and eventually passed to protect migrant farmworkers.

The Event was not just as simple as filling out a form, however. Those running the tabling, Brockport students  Rivera and Chanque Peart had a more than adequate amount of knowledge on the subject of migrant workers in America and were eager to dispense the knowledge on any student visiting the table. Peart was able to inform students on issues of documentation and residency in the United States that so often affect migrant farmworkers. 

Many of the issues of exploitation that arises with migrant workers comes from the fact that they are undocumented in the U.S. or a resident. The difference between a resident and a citizen is quite simple to explain, but the disparagement of rights between one status and the other leads to mistreatment. 

"So undocumented immigrants don't have any social security number, any papers, they can't really own a home if they want to," Peart said. 

Rivera also had plenty to say on the exploitation of migrant workers in the country.

"The fact that migrant farmworkers make such little money and receive such little rights compared to non-migrant farmworkers I would argue is a way of making migrant farmworkers one of the most exploited working groups in the nation," Rivera said.

The goal of all of this is to get students involved and hold their representatives accountable for passing legislation to help gain rights for everyone. BSG will continue to table every other week in order to spread awareness and encourage activism on a wide range of topics and issues.



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