When the weather heats up and the crops are ready to be planted, LAF’s Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project (IMLAP) kicks it into high gear. This year is no exception. Thousands of migrant workers across the state work every day to plant, cultivate, and pick the food we eat; and IMLAP’s attorneys, paralegals, and students work to protect their legal rights.
Equal Justice Works Fellow Karla Altmayer is finishing up a year-long project focused on female farmworkers, who are more isolated than anyone. She is doing outreach and education across the state that focuses on gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and workplace sexual violence. She has worked to train hundreds of community advocates and empowered farmworkers across the state. She has also developed a curriculum that is being used nationally to train advocates.
Staff Attorney Jose Alonso is working hard on connecting with farmworkers who are working in the fields of Illinois pursuant to the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program. These workers labor and are housed in the most remote and inaccessible parts of the state, in conditions described as “as close to slavery as we have in this county.” Jose is currently working with an organization called Ladder Up to help these migrant workers learn about their rights and obligations under the tax code and for those who have to file income tax returns, to receive assistance in filling out the appropriate tax form.
IMLAP is also leading the way on a Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force. One of very few of its kind around the country, they bring together federal and state law enforcement and government agencies; academia; social services agencies; legal assistance attorneys; and faith-based associations, to combat this every growing problem in Illinois.
IMLAP is doing great work across the state, and throughout the country, and we could not be more thankful for all their efforts. You can read more about them, and lots of other great stories, in our August eNewsletter here.