Farm labor, immigrants, essential workers, undocumented workers, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pandemic impact

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Of the 2.4 million farm-working laborers in the United States, upwards of 73% are immigrants. And, according to the Economic Policy Institute, immigrants make up nearly 22% of all workers in the U.S. food industry, including 27% of food production workers, 37% of meat processing industry workers, 34% of commercial bakery workers, and 31% of fruit and vegetable preservation work. Another study found that “[p]eople of color make up the majority of essential workers in food and agriculture (50%) and in industrial, commercial, residential facilities and services (53%).” Many of these workers--if not the majority in some sectors--are undocumented and/or unauthorized. Approximately 25% of U.S. immigrants were born in Mexico. Thus, when we discuss issues involving food and farm workers in the United States, we are largely talking about racial and ethnic minorities, undocumented individuals, and members of the immigrant community (foreign born and their children).