An Open Letter to Governor Ron DeSantis from Pancha, a Former Migrant Farmworker
Updated: Feb 16, 2021
Dear Governor DeSantis,
I come as a US Citizen. I am concerned about the way the migrants are being treated, coming from a migrant family myself. At 15 years old, I traveled from state to state to pick crops. Picking cotton, onions, beets in the state of Colorado before coming to Florida. My mom decided to come to Florida with 8 children to pick oranges in the early 60’s. We came to a little town called Indiantown, Florida. We went up the stream to North and South Carolina all the way to Parksly, Virginia, picking tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches. You name it, I have done it. ‘Till I started my own family.
So I know what a migrant does, I thank God I was born in the USA. But my brothers and sisters in Christ, the Guatemalans, Mexicans, Haitians, and Jamicans have not had it so good coming to this so called American Dream. A better life as our parents call it, it hasn't been easy for me. It became a repeat for me too, having 7 children and finding babysitting or daycare where I could leave my children so I could work. Waking up at 5 am in the morning, working until 6 pm, sometimes 7 or 8 pm. Traveling to Homestead, Florida, getting paid 25c a bucket picking tomatoes, cucumbers.
This is why I see it has not changed for these people cause they too have to do the same to get food and a roof over their heads for their families. They have to pay somebody to take them where they have to go. This reminds me of what I went through and why I decided to give my children a better life. I was offered a job at Holy Cross Service Center in Indiantown, Florida to help the migrants. Cleofas Martinez, Coca as everyone knew her, was working with me to find rented rooms for 5 or 6 people to live in. These people work from sunup to sundown treated like animals. When the women had to give birth they were left in the hallway at M. M. Hospital in Stuart, Florida. I was there with them. That was my job as an employee at Holy Cross Center for 2 years. I then went to work for Florida Community Health Center as a van driver taking families to doctor's appointments. Then I went to work with the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project where I worked for 25 years as a bus driver, then cook.
So now you are wondering what my experience has to do with you. My concern is that you gave a statement on the news about the Pandemic and the Vaccine that people must have a Florida ID or 2 proofs of residency in order to get the vaccine. But as everyone knows, some of these people are undocumented immigrants. Issues keep them from getting these documents. No place to call home, living with others to serve, no vehicle — that's why they have to bundle up in cars to go to work. Essential farmworkers do not have these documents, so where does that leave them at the end? Do you know Indiantown, Florida was and still is the hot spot for the highest Covid cases in the State? They got the virus going to work in the farms.
We need this vaccine for everyone, not just those Americans born here. We call ourselves Christians, we should do better. Discrimination is what I see here. This should not be an issue if you are trying to save lives. I don't want to take anymore of your time. I just want this so-called Government, be it Democrats or Republicans, to see this issue and stop what is happening before more lives are taken. America can do better like you all keep saying. We need to show we as Americans can do better and keep promising what we can give. God did not ask questions and has not. So with that, I leave this in your hands.
God bless you,
Frances “Pancha” Delgado