Posts By: Seth DeBartolo
47.2% of residents living in Immokalee, live below the poverty level.
Your support of Amigos Center helps thousands of children and families in need throughout Southwest Florida.
Located in SW Florida, Immokalee is one of our nation’s most fertile agricultural communities. According to the 2008 USDA Profile of Hired Farmworkers, farmworkers remain “among the most economically disadvantaged working groups in the U.S.” and “poverty among farmworkers is more than double that of all wage and salary employees.”
Farmworker Facts and Figures
- Like textile workers at the turn of the last century, Florida tomato harvesters are still paid by the piece. The average piece rate today is 50 cents for every 32-lbs of tomatoes they pick, a rate that has remained virtually unchanged since 1980. As a result of that stagnation, a worker today must pick more than 2.25 tons of tomatoes to earn minimum wage in a typical 10-hour workday — nearly twice the amount a worker had to pick to earn minimum wage thirty years ago, when the rate was 40 cents per bucket. Most farmworkers today earn less than $12,000 a year.
- In a January 2001 letter to members of Congress, the U.S. Department of Labor described farmworkers as “a labor force in significant economic distress,” citing farmworkers’ “low wages, sub-poverty annual earnings, [and] significant periods of un- and underemployment” to support its conclusions.
- As a result of intentional exclusion from key New Deal labor reform measures, farmworkers do not have the right to overtime pay, nor the right to organize and collectively bargain with their employers.
- In the most extreme conditions, farmworkers are held against their will and forced to work for little or no pay, facing conditions that meet the stringent legal standards for prosecution under modern-day slavery statutes. Federal Civil Rights officials have successfully prosecuted seven slavery operations involving over 1,000 workers in Florida’s fields since 1997, prompting one federal prosecutor to call Florida “ground zero for modern-day slavery.” In 2010, federal prosecutors indicted two more forced labor rings operating in Florida.
*facts from The Coalition of Immokalee Workers
You don’t have to travel overseas to help someone in need.
There are families that need help right here in SW Florida! Many of those in need are our neighbors, our children’s classmates, even family and friends. These who are in need are hungry on all levels: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Your support of the Amigos Center helps thousands of families be filled in their minds, bodies, and spirits.
Hunger Statistics on Food Insecurity
*facts from USDA. Mark Nord, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.
Help us make a difference in Southwest Florida.
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Family is sacred. Family is of utmost importance. Family is worth fighting for.
This is what we fight for daily. Uniting families, keeping them united, and making them strong for the future. Strong families make strong communities.
We connect individuals to the larger church family. We give families a place to grow together. We give families hope and unite them in the truth of the love of God through Jesus Christ.
Through our Family-Based Immigration ministry we make it possible for families to be re-united and stay united without worrying about the cost and difficulties of the immigration process. We give families the hope of working up the ladder toward citizenship and security for their families in the land of opportunity.
We are a friend to those who are in crisis. Through assistance, education, and advocacy, families receive the tools they need to succeed.
Amigos en Cristo: Providing tools for successful assimilation, primarily to immigrants of Southwest Florida and their families, to improve their quality of life.
USCIS fact sheet — The unauthorized practice of immigration law (UPIL) endangers the integrity of our immigration system and victimizes members of the immigrant community. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to launch an initiative to combat this exploitative practice by:
Amigos Center Immigration Specialist, Eulalia Troncoso, received a call from 88 year-old Jose and his 83 year-old wife Rosa. They had been referred to the Amigos Center by a local notary public. They lost their immigration papers and needed help. With no money and no means of transportation they were in trouble.Due to their advanced age and transportation problems, Eulalia went to their house. She helped them gather the necessary support documents that were scattered about the house and then filled out the proper immigration forms. Our staff was even able to make transportation arrangements for them to get their fingerprints taken.Thanks to Amigos Center and Eulalia’s extra efforts, we now have two new and grateful friends in Christ.
Myth: Immigrating to the United States for work or family is easy.
Fact: Only 5,000 visas are available for low-skilled workers each year, yet our economy relies on
millions of undocumented laborers.1 Families wait years for reunification. Lawful permanent
residents face waits of more than five years for their spouses to get visas and join them. Siblings
of permanent residents wait 10–22 years for visas.
Myth: Immigrants take jobs away from Americans.
Fact: Between 2000 and 2005 the availability of native-born low-wage workers declined by
approximately 1.8 million. In the same period the number of low-wage immigrant workers
increased by 620,000, thus offsetting the total decline by about a third.
Myth: Immigrants don’t pay taxes.
Fact: All immigrants pay taxes. Even undocumented immigrants pay sales taxes and real estate taxes
(either directly as homeowners or indirectly through rent). The Social Security Administration
estimates that three-quarters of undocumented immigrants contribute payroll taxes, including
$6–7 billion in Social Security taxes that will never benefit them.
Myth: Immigrants are a drain on the economy.
Fact: Approximately 26 million immigrants currently residing in the United States arrived after the age of 18 and are in prime working age. They represent roughly $2.8 trillion to U.S. taxpayers, who
receive the benefit of their labor without the cost of their education.
Myth: Immigrants come to the United States to get welfare.
Fact: Documented immigrants are prohibited from receiving most federal government benefits for at
least five years after they arrive in the United States. They work and pay taxes, but do not receive
benefits. Immigrants without papers can get emergency medical care but cannot receive welfare,
food stamps or Social Security.
Myth: Immigrants send all their money back to their home countries.
Fact: While many immigrants do send money back to their families in other countries, they contribute
to the U.S. economy in other ways. Through consumer spending and entrepreneurship,
immigrants contribute $162 billion in tax revenue to federal, state and local governments.
Myth: Immigrants don’t want to learn English or become citizens.
Fact: 65% of immigrants over age 5 who speak a language other than English at home speak English
“very well” or “well.”8 Many adult immigrants want to become proficient in English, but the
demand for ESL instruction far outweighs the supply. Over 1 million immigrants applied for
naturalization in 2007, but only 48% were granted approval.9 This shows not only the desire of
immigrants to become citizens but also the limitations they face.
Myth: Most immigrants are here illegally.
Fact: Out of roughly 31 million foreign-born residents in the United States, 63% are documented. The
remaining 37% are undocumented.
Myth: Immigrants are uneducated.
Fact: More than 1.3 million (1 in 5) college-educated immigrants living in the United States are
unemployed or are underemployed in positions such as taxi drivers, dishwashers and security guards.
Many educated immigrants are unable to make full use of their academic and professional credentials,
but must pursue expensive and lengthy re-credentialing before resuming their former career paths.
Myth: Letting in more immigrants leads to an increase in crime.
Fact: Research indicates that higher immigration levels either have no effect on crime rates or are
associated with lower levels of crime and violence. The incarceration rate of those born in the
United States is four times higher than the incarceration rate of the foreign-born.
NAPLES — The thought of slavery in the fields of Immokalee shocked many of the visitors to a traveling museum documenting the injustices. Read More…
Thanks to the volunteers of Amigos Center and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans chapters in Lee and Collier counties “Change for Change Program” we were able to make a significant improvement in the Bonita Springs home of a single mother and her two kids. Over a two week period, nine volunteers worked over 200 hours to completely refurbish a bedroom and bathroom. The home had been damaged in the flood following Tropical Storm Fay in August of 2008. The volunteers worked under the supervision of contractor Paul Garcia. This was a moving spiritual experience for Paul since he felt certain that, through a series of events, God had called him to help this long-suffering family of three.
VBS in Immokalee. On August 17-21, 40 kids enjoyed a fun week filled with songs, Bible stories, crafts, snacks and games. What a joy to celebrate life together and being a light for Jesus in the world.