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Penn State Coronavirus Updates

World in View: Migrating in a pandemic: The impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on agricultural labor migration from Mexico and Central America to the US

  • Tuesday, March 2, 2021
  • 2:00 PM- 3:00 PM
  • Zoom link will be provided

A World in View discussion led by Dr. Kathleen Sexsmith (Penn State) and Dr. Mary Jo Dudley (Cornell)

This presentation will focus on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the migration experiences of vulnerable Mexican and Central American workers and families who provide the backbone of the U.S. agricultural labor force. The presentation will begin by providing background on the pre-COVID context of the U.S. immigration system. Next, we will provide information on how the government has intensified its anti-immigrant message and policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, for example by implementing rapid deportations that deny immigrants and asylum-seekers their right to due process. Finally, we will trace the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis along the migration path from Central America and Mexico to the U.S., explaining how migrants are at heightened risk of contracting the disease and experiencing other precarious conditions at border-crossings, in the U.S. immigrant detention system, and in agricultural workplaces.

Kathleen Sexsmith is an Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education at Penn State. Dr. Sexsmith received her PhD from Cornell University in 2017, where her dissertation focused on the impacts of immigration enforcement on labor relations between immigrant workers and their employers on New York dairy farms. For this project she received close mentorship from Mary Jo Dudley, and since that time they have continued collaborating on research, writing, and extension efforts in Pennsylvania and New York.

Mary Jo Dudley is the Director of the Cornell Farmworker Program and a faculty member of the Department of Global Development at Cornell University. She has extensive research interests in immigrant workers, farmworkers, US-Latin American relations, migration from Latin America to the US, and immigrant communities in the US. She is currently involved in capacity building within the farmworker community in New York State. Current research with farmworkers and farmers examines how to improve workplace relations, and how farmworkers are coping with the COVID-19 crisis.

Please note: Registration for events in this series is required and, given the topics and speakers, we anticipate interest to be high. For this reason, each event is limited to 25 students and early registration is strongly encouraged. Scholar attendees will receive a complimentary electronic gift card.

Event Contact

Sarah Lyall-Combs
Schreyer Scholar Brenden Sosnader

I have two older brothers who graduated from the Honors College, and I was able to see them go through their college experience and all the opportunities they had. I visited them a few times in Atherton Hall, which made me fall in love with the College. I saw this as a place where I can find great opportunities and do some really great things.

Brenden Sosnader '19 Computer Science, Statistics

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