A new group of migrant workers, many without official documents, is growing as the climate crisis intensifies, the New Yorker reports. As climate-fueled weather disasters become worse and more prevalent, a growing number of people are following disasters the way migrant farmworkers follow the harvest. Many, like Bellaliz Gonzalez who spoke to the New Yorker in Midland, Michigan, work for labor brokers like Servepro or Back To New, but worker protections even for documented citizens are widely under-enforced, so when a disaster has been cleaned up, “the contractors will owe thirty thousand dollars by the time the last paycheck is due,” said Rice University sociologist Sergio Chávez. “Instead of paying, they’ll call ICE or the police.”
That’s on top of the dangers of hard manual labor, mold exposure, and COVID-19. The workers have formed an identity helping communities recover after disasters, and are organizing through groups like Resilience Force. “Yesterday, cops came here targeting people with our color skin, as if we were trash,” Saket Soni told workers at a Resilience Force organizing meeting in the parking lot of a Lake Charles, Louisiana, Home Depot in October last year.
“Let’s pray,” said Osman, a roofer who moonlights as a preacher. “Protect us from accidents, protect us from police. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.” (The New Yorker $)