migrant farmworkers

Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

The immigrant workers that pick crops like cotton and melons in the U.S. can have a tough time finding a place to live. The rural areas where they can find work often lack the social services and affordable housing. That means many farm worker families end up in dilapidated buildings, which can come with health risks.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

Many Mexican migrant farmworkers are heading home at the end of apple picking season this October. Sixty-one year-old Maria Zavala is one of them.

For the past 18 years she’s made the 20-hour drive from her home in Waco, Texas to western Missouri to work in the apple orchards.  She's struggled with high blood pressure that entire time, and like most migrant farmworkers who don't speak English, she often wasn't aware of the health care options available to her.


When 85-year-old retired farmworker and grandmother Amparo Mejia needed surgery on her spine because of a rare form of tuberculosis, she was able to pay for the procedure through emergency Medicaid. She was lucky. For many low-income immigrants – even those authorized to work in the US – it can be challenging or outright impossible to get health insurance.