Essential and Unprotected

July 21, 2020

They’ve been keeping America fed throughout the pandemic — and they say they’ve had to choose between their health and their jobs. For the essential agriculture workers who pick and process the food we eat, many of them undocumented immigrants, COVID-19 is amplifying existing challenges. Journalists Daffodil Altan and Andrés Cediel discuss what their reporting for FRONTLINE shows about the virus’ toll on workers at farms and meatpacking plants, the lack of federally required COVID-19 protections for agriculture workers, and why workers who are undocumented have been fearful to speak out: “Even if you’re called essential, you can still potentially be deported.”

For more, watch COVID’s Hidden Toll — the latest installment in FRONTLINE’s award-winning body of work exposing the hidden realities facing low-wage immigrant workers in the U.S. (Rape in the FieldsRape on the Night ShiftTrafficked in America). The documentary is supported by Chasing the Dream.

The FRONTLINE Dispatch is made possible by the Abrams Foundation Journalism Initiative.