Mapping Memories: Immigrant Workers Seek Climate Justice

Field of Topiary.

Courtesy of Gray Read.

Map from Francisca’s description of her town in Mexico; drawing by Sara Alzate.
 
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Map from Francisca’s description of her town in Mexico; drawing by Sara Alzate.

Courtesy of Sara Alzate.

Sketch of Ana drawing, by Victoria Gomes.
 
2 of 2
 

Sketch of Ana drawing, by Victoria Gomes.

Courtesy of Victoria Gomes.

The Problem
The Roots
The Solutions

Immigrant agricultural workers in South Florida are often subject to environmental risks such as heat stress and chronic pesticide exposure.

The Homestead agricultural district has long depended on immigrant labor. Since 2001, drought in Central America linked to climate change has increasingly left agricultural workers with little choice but to emigrate. Some arrive in Homestead without legal status and are therefore subject to abusive conditions, extremely low wages, and even wage theft. Because of their vulnerability, they also hesitate to seek medical care, report problems to authorities, or advocate for themselves in the workplace or in the broader political arena.

WeCount! takes action to defend the rights of workers and the dignity of undocumented persons. WeCount! invests in educating our community, amplifying the voices of workers, and advocating for legislation that will ensure safe working conditions and living wages.

Drawing from Ana’s description of her village in Guatemala, by Victoria Gomes.
Drawing from Ana’s description of her work in Homestead, by Victoria Gomes.
Drawing from one of Ana’s memories from her childhood in El Salvador, by Alondra Delgado.
Dibujo elaborado por Sara Alzate a partir de la descripción de Ana de una manifestación en Washington, DC.
Drawing from Ana’s description of her childhood in Mexico, by Sara Alzate.
Drawing from Alejandra’s description of the dream of America, by Miguel Escotet.
Drawing from Juan’s description of work in Homestead, by Miguel Escotet.
Drawing from Ana’s description of her village in Guatemala, by Victoria Gomes.
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Drawing from Ana’s description of her village in Guatemala, by Victoria Gomes.

Courtesy of Victoria Gomes.

Drawing from Ana’s description of her work in Homestead, by Victoria Gomes.
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Drawing from Ana’s description of her work in Homestead, by Victoria Gomes.

Courtesy of Victoria Gomes.

Drawing from one of Ana’s memories from her childhood in El Salvador, by Alondra Delgado.
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 Drawing from one of Ana’s memories from her childhood in El Salvador, by Alondra Delgado.

Courtesy of Alondra Delgado.

Dibujo elaborado por Sara Alzate a partir de la descripción de Ana de una manifestación en Washington, DC.
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Drawing from Francisca’s description of a rally in Washington, DC, by Sara Alzate.

Courtesy of Sara Alzate.

Drawing from Ana’s description of her childhood in Mexico, by Sara Alzate.
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Drawing from Francisca’s description of her childhood in Aquismón, Mexico, by Sara Alzate.

Courtesy of Sara Alzate.

Drawing from Alejandra’s description of the dream of America, by Miguel Escotet.
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Drawing from Alejandra’s description of the dream of America, by Miguel Escotet.

Courtesy of Miguel Escotet.

Drawing from Juan’s description of work in Homestead, by Miguel Escotet.
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Drawing from Juan’s description of work in Homestead, by Miguel Escotet.

Courtesy Miguel Escotet.

Our Point of View

University Partners
Community Partners

Many in our interdisciplinary group of architecture and literature students have our own immigration stories, but most of us hadn’t considered the connection between climate change and immigration. Working with WeCount!, we came to understand how the struggle of immigrant agricultural workers is also a struggle for climate justice. Their labor exposes them to heat stress and dangerous pesticides. Their narratives energized us and, we hope, will energize visitors to combat climate change and support legislation to enforce fair and safe conditions in the fields.

—Florida International University

WeCount! empowers immigrant workers in Homestead, Florida. Part of this work is to build coalitions and make our presence and struggles known more widely. Working with FIU students helped us present our clients’ stories in a compelling way to our own community and publicize our mission to a new audience.

—WeCount!

—Catalyst Miami

Contributors

University Partners

Florida International University

Faculty Project Directors Gray Read Martha Schoolman
Students Jonathan Brunache Alondra Delgado Miguel Escotet Ana Maria Garcia Victoria Gomes Stephanie Janania Jason Katz Jessica Milton Jessica Oliveira Paola Parra Jean Paul Russo Adrian Salgado

Community Partners

Catalyst Miami

Mayra Cruz
Aidil Oscariz

WeCount!

Jonathan Fried
Levis Arnol Torres Villalobos