Food and farm workers in California are more likely to die of Covid-19 than any other industry. But while other industries closed, the agricultural business continued. Citing a largely undocumented workforce that the federal government identified as essential. “California’s Covid-19 vaccination effort has begun.” “Proponents of farm workers say their turn should be next for vaccines for national food security reasons.” As early as January, Riverside County began its first large-scale vaccination measures for farm workers. However, the challenges showed how marginalized this community has become. “Vaccinating Illegal Migrants About the American People.” “Put Americans first. Put Americans first. “Now the plight of these workers is driving Congress to implement important immigration reforms. At stake is a path to citizenship for approximately one million undocumented workers across the country. “Farm workers were on the front line.” “You deserve the opportunity to take steps towards legal status.” “The promise of amnesty for those who are already here illegally encourages more foreigners to come illegally.” This is usually an inspection point on a grape and date farm. When Riverside County distributed their first vaccines to farm workers, they brought them here. Today we vaccinate farm workers. We supply 250 vaccines. But it’s a very large community, about 20,000 to 30,000 farm workers. And to achieve herd immunity, we need to vaccinate at least 70% of our population. Known for Palm Springs and world-class golf courses, Riverside County is also home to the agricultural region of Eastern Coachella Valley, where the COVID positivity rate hit nearly 40 percent in December. We know that they are in close contact with other people. And so we know that the transmission possibilities are really great. But it was really amazing. My job is to keep our community healthy. If someone gets Covid-19 it doesn’t matter if they are undocumented or not, they can pass it on to the community like any other person. But while prioritizing farm laborers on paper is one thing, actually getting shots in the arms is another. Your access to resources does not exist. Right, there isn’t a lot of public transport or doctors or clinics in the area. In order to reach these workers, the county had to visit its employers. Hey Brett, really, really good news for you. Friday vaccinations for your employees. Under no circumstance! Janell Percy is the executive director of the Coachella Valley Growers Association. More recently, she has been a de facto county health agency, coordinating vaccination clinics through her network of local farm owners. This process was very challenging. There were so many strangers. You know, I’m used to working with plants more than people, I guess. So I got you down for 25 right? Ah yes. You know everyone is worried. I told everyone just to be patient. Could be weeks. It could be months. I don’t know right now. But not everyone is on Janell’s list. Smaller businesses like this one may not pay into the club. Many workers track seasonal crops from farm to farm, and some use borrowed social security numbers from employers. These workers may not even be aware of the county’s mobile vaccination efforts. Therefore, the county has also relied on community organizations to reach people more directly. Luz Gallegos leads one of these groups. She grew up here, even the child of undocumented farm workers. We have told the community that your health should always come first and prevention is key. And if you are not alive, you will never see a green card. But we cannot judge our community for not trusting the government. Farm workers have always been indispensable, but have never been treated as such. There are an estimated 800,000 farm workers in California alone. Nationwide, the number is between two and three million. As we approach high season we will have to accelerate exponentially to vaccinate farm workers or we will see how many more die from Covid-19. Alberto and Marina were afraid of I.C.E. and arrest since they came here. It’s an experience Marina knows firsthand. She was caught crossing the border three years ago. Basic workers shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they will see their children at the end of the day, whether or not they will be deported. Raul Ruiz grew up in these fields. He became a doctor, then ran for Congress and won. He is now in his home district teaching farm workers about the vaccine. For Dr. Getting the vaccine to farm workers is not enough for Ruiz. In March, he helped bring the Farm Workers Modernization Act into the house. The law would provide protection and a path to legalization for undocumented farm workers. They literally die to feed you. We need to protect and secure our food supply chain. If there is a moment to instill empathy and understanding to protect them from separation from their families, it is now. the humanitarian crisis we see on the border. The path to citizenship as a reward for violating our laws. The bill was passed with both party support, but there will be an uphill battle in the Senate. Meanwhile, other states are joining California and starting vaccinating farm workers. They acknowledge that the only way out of the pandemic is for everyone to take turns.