The dangers of COVID-19 mean that UAW Local 2320 member Daniela Juarez, who works with the Migrant Farmworker Project in Wisconsin, doesn’t meet with her clients in person. She spends a lot of time talking with them on the phone.
In person or not, her assistance is vital as many of her Spanish-speaking clients are challenged by lack of access to public areas where they depend on technology to help them get information, file forms or apply for unemployment insurance benefits, says Juarez, who assists migrant and seasonal farmworkers throughout Wisconsin.
The Farmworker Project helps migrant and seasonal farmworkers with issues related to wages, unemployment, housing and protections under state and federal migrant protection laws.
Juarez is one of three attorneys on the team. Korey Lundin staffs a COVID intake line for clients facing eviction and COVID-related housing issues. Carlos Bailey helped draft an amicus brief in the Wisconsin Legislature in support of the state’s “Safer at Home” orders.
Many of the clients who need her help are challenged by language, literacy and technology barriers. Some of them use computers in libraries in other public places. “And a lot of those places were closed because of COVID-19,” Juarez says.
“This is very difficult for many of my clients because these systems they need to get information, file forms or apply for benefits that require reliable technology,” she adds.. “If a client has problems reading a document, they have to send me a picture of it and if they don’t have reliable technology to do that, then they have to read it to me. Sometimes that can be very difficult and very frustrating.”
Without Juarez to help, she says, a client might turn to a family member or friend. “And any mistake can have very serious consequences. There is a lot weighing on people getting it right. That is why a program like this means so much to people, especially at a time like this.”
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