Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice Plans 
       Summer-Fall 2012 Focus on Justice for Farmworkers

As part of our ongoing Fair Food Campaign with Publix, we are collecting signatures to a new North Florida  clergy letter to Publix.  It will be released later this summer.

The week of September 10-16 will be Coalition of Immokalee Workers Week at the University of Florida and in the Gainesville community.  The Modern Day Slavery Museum will be on campus on Thursday September 13 at the Plaza of the Americas.

The second annual Fair Food Fair Trade Fair will be held Saturday September 15 in two locations:  Emmanuel Mennonite Meeting House/Beltram Peace Center at 1236 NW 18th Avenue, Gainesville and Highlands Presbyterian Church at 1001 NE 16th Avenue, Gainesville.  There will be interactive workshops on the Fair Food Campaign, sustainable agriculture, community gardens, and other justice issues at both locations as well as sales of Fair Trade items.

We're also planning to take a large group from Gainesville to Immokalee October 13 for an immersion visit to the tomato fields during the harvest season.  We'll be guests of Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida, who will introduce our group to the realities of a farmworker's daily life.  

Why do we protest Publix?  We want them to do the right thing.
 Short video explains how "one penny more" would almost double farmworkers' wages:


Farmworkers feed the world –  There are an estimated 2-3 million men, women, and children that work in the fields in the United States.  Farms are in every state, yet farmworkers remain largely invisible and continue to live and work in horrific conditions.  

Farm work is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States.  The people who plant and harvest our fruits and vegetables suffer from the highest rate of toxic chemical injuries of any other workers in the nation as well as have higher incidences of heat stress, dermatitis, urinary tract infections, parasitic infections, and tuberculosis than other wage-earners.

Farmworkers are treated differently under the law. Overtime, unemployment insurance, even protection when joining a union are not guaranteed under federal law. Farmworkers were excluded from almost all major federal laws passed in the 1930s. We are fighting for dignity, safe working conditions, and just living and working conditions for farmworkers and an end to unfair treatment under the law.

Clergy Letter to Publix Released August 24, 2012

A letter signed by 42 area religious leaders asked Publix to sign the Fair Food Agreement and refuted their claims that they are being asked to intervene in a labor dispute and that they would pay the extra penny a pound if growers would put it in the price.  It was made public at a press conference at University Lutheran Church in Gainesville.

International Day of Action with Chipotle July 25, 2012

IAIJ joined with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and friends and allies across the United States and in the British Isles on July 25 to urge Chipotle to join other fast food and restaurant chains in supporting fair wages and fair working conditions for tomato pickers.  Victor Yengle organised our action.

Gainesville City Commission Honors 
National Farmworker Week  March 25-31, 2012

The Gainesville City Commission will proclaim March 25-31 as National Farmworker Awareness Week at their meeting Thursday night at the request of Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice.

The proclamation recognizes "Farmworkers hand-harvest 85% of the fruits and vegetables on our tables,but remain nearly invisible, even those who work in fields here in Alachua County." Farmworkers have "one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States," with high incidence of job-related accidents and pesticide poisoning, they earn very little for their labor and work under deplorable conditions. Cases of actual involuntary servitude (slavery) are not unknown in Florida, even in Alachua County. The proclamation is an effort to call attention to their situation.

UF students Victor Yengle and Juliette Barbara, who recently spent six days fasting on water only alongside farmworkers from Immokalee, will receive the proclamation from Mayor Craig Lowe. They were taking part in the Fast for Fair Food by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers urging Publix to join other major tomato buyers in an agreement for improved pay and working conditions.


Gainesville events for National Farmworker Awareness Week include two films followed by discussion and a forum on the Immokalee Workers and the Fair Food campaign. All are free and open to the public. "Harvest of Loneliness" will be shown 7:30 p.m Tuesday March 27 and "Slavery By Another Name" 7:30p.m Thursday March 29 at Mennonite Meeting House/ Beltram Peace Center, 1236 NW 18th Avenue in Gainesville. Gainesville Friends will host a public forum on farmworkers, with particular attention to farmworkers in Florida, 1 p.m. Sunday April 1 at the Quaker Meeting House, 704 NW 38th Street in Gainesville.

“Harvest of Loneliness: The Bracero Program”, is a film that sheds light on the current debate over immigration reform and the use of “guest workers” in American agriculture. The Bracero Program was a system put in place from 1942-1964 to recruit Mexican farm laborers for temporary work in the United States.

“Slavery by Another Name” is a 90-minute documentary that challenges one of Americas’ most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery in this country ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. This film examines the way that forced labor lasted well into the 20th century.

           Victor Yengle, Victoria Gomez, Kimberly Hunter, Juliette Barbara, Fran Ricardo, Sheila Payne, Phil Kellerman
                                          after they received the Proclamation at Gainesville City Hall March 16, 2012

                      Breaking the Fast for Fair Food: 
                     Rally in Lakeland March 10, 2012

A delegation from Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice traveled to Lakeland March 10 for the closing exercises in the Fast for Fair Food outside Publix headquarters.  They first heard Ethel Kennedy, Robert Kennedy Jr. and other speakers and joined them in a four-mile solemn march to Publix.

                                                                                            Kimberly Hunter
                                                                                                 Erin Conlin
                                                                          On the March to Publix Headquarters

                                                                                              Fran Ricardo

                                                     Paul Ortiz, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Sheila Payne and Vero Musa

          Rev. Noelle Damico leads the closing worship with Rev. Jaime Zelaya and Richard MacMaster participating.

        The Fast for Fair Food in Lakeland March 5-10, 2012

                                                       Fasters outside Publix headquarters.  Photos by Victor Yengle

IAIJ member Victor Yengle spent UF Spring Break fasting on water only outside Publix headquarters and Juliette Barbara of IAIJ kept the fast at home.

                                                       "Is this not the fast I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice"

                            Rev. Noelle Damico (4th from right, back row) leads worship on the first day of the Fast

February 22, 2012
                             Gainesville press conference: 
                    3 UF students to join Fast for Fair Food! 

Paul Ortiz, Richard MacMaster, City Commissioner Randy Wells, Rabbi David Kaiman, Oscar Otzoy

Event brings together Gainesville faith, student, and civic leaders in united front for Fair Food...
With the Fast for Fair Food set to begin in just 11 days, people across the state and across the country are answering the call to action and declaring "I'll be there!" with the CIW at Publix headquarters in Lakeland, Florida.
Yesterday, at a moving press conference just across the street from the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, three UF students declared that they will be joining workers from Immokalee and other Fair Food allies in fasting all six days of the upcoming action. Further, dozens of UF students pledged to form a caravan to Lakeland for the Saturday, March 10th, picket and procession to Publix headquarters for the ceremony to break the week-long fast.
From the UF student daily, the Independent Alligator ("UF students to fast in support of migrants," 2/23/12):
"Three UF students will spend their Spring Break fasting to bring attention to the unfair treatment of tomato pickers.
Victor Yengle, a 23-year-old economics junior, Juliette Barbera (right), a 20-year-old criminology junior, and Rain Araneda, a 31-year-old environmental engineering senior, will join about 50 others in a weeklong fast to protest Publix's refusal to join a migrant workers rights campaign...
... Gainesville religious and political leaders thanked the activists for their efforts Wednesday afternoon during a press conference.
'I commend and I honor the work of the [supporters] for acting on these words,' said City Commissioner Randy Wells. 'That is powerful.'
Yengle and Barbera will join other supporters in Lakeland to fast. Araneda will fast on her own while she volunteers with Habitat for Humanity in Georgia.
Yengle (left) said he is protesting to make students aware of the issues workers face, particularly those in Immokalee, Fla., who are fighting against below-minimum-wage pay, sexual harassment and a lack of basic human rights.
In addition, he said he hopes the UF administration takes his actions to heart if it chooses to work with Publix in the future. He said he hopes UF will encourage Publix to sign onto the campaign.
'I wouldn't want our academic excellence to be attached to any injustices,' he said."

February 11, 2012  Panel on Immigration Enforcement

When Biblical Wisdom and Government Law Disagree.

This Valentine’s season,

Reflect on what it means to “Love your neighbor as yourself”    

©         ©         ©         ©         ©         ©         ©         ©         ©         ©         ©         ©         ©         ©         ©

Immigration  Enforcement:   
When  the   law  is  harming   your   neighbors   -  What  to  do?

Statewide & local clergy provide an afternoon panel of perspectives
Discussion and Q&A will follow

© Saturday, February 11, from 12 - 3 PM
(refreshments served at 11:30)

© Emmanuel Mennonite’s Beltram Peace Center
(1236 NW 18th Ave, Gainesville FL)

© Hosted by the Gainesville Fellowship of Reconciliation
& the Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice

12:00 PM    Rev. Parrish Jones, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, St. Augustine
Biblical wisdom calls us to protect and care for our neighbors even when government laws abuse, threaten, terrify, and divide the immigrant families among us

1:00 PM       Rev. Andrew Bodden, Mennonite Central Committee, Miami
Churches can help inform new immigrants of their rights under the law and help them avoid negative confrontations with law enforcement

2:00 PM       Rev. Jaime Zelaya, Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Alachua, Alachua
Our local clergy are working together, in conversation with law officials, to resolve conflicts with police and keep immigrant parishioners out of harm’s way

More info:  352.377.6577 © © ©

January 14, 2012
Carrying the Fair Food Campaign to Vilano Beach
                Terry Buckenmeyer, Sheila Payne and Eric Castillo at the new Vilano Beach Publix

Greetings IAIJ friends,

It's a new year, but its the same old story with Publix. They still believe that paying unfair wages, forcing people to work in unhealthy and unsafe conditions, creating systems of debt which rob hard working people of pay is just a "labor dispute". So it is up to us to tell Publix to do the right thing.

Publix is opening a new Publix in Vilano Beach (near St. Augustine) on Saturday January 14, 2012. We will be there to welcome the new Publix to the campaign for fair food. Be sure to be there, this promises to be a great action. Vilano Beach Action @ Facebook

We are going to take people from Gainesville to St. Augustine in two waves on Saturday morning, one group at 5:30 a.m. to get there in time for possible early morning media coverage and another group at 9:30 a.m. to get there for the grand opening ceremony. We are meeting at the Civic Media Center for carpooling.

If you need a ride to St. Aug please tell us which time you would like to go so we can make sure there are enough vehicles for everyone. We are still looking for drivers if anyone has a car. Emily Sparr is going up at 5:30am, if you want to go up then call her at 980-875-8083.

If you would like to leave Gainesville at 9:30 am, contact Sheila Payne her number is 831.334.0117
. We will return before 3pm. It is a 70 minute drive.

Below is a story about the Coalition of Immokolee Workers protest in Miami. Below that are some sites where you can find out more information about the Fair Food Campaign and also a news article about the protest in Vilano Beach.
Please join us, so that we can keep the pressure on Publix. Solidarity, Sheila

150 in Miami, 100 in Naples pressure Publix to protect farmworker rights in its tomato supply chain
Carrying a hand-written scroll calling on Publix to "honor and guarantee the fundamental human rights of farmworkers which have been violated and ignored far too long," 150 farmworkers and Fair Food activists descended on a newly-opened Publix store in Miami yesterday to press their demands for ethical purchasing practices from the Florida grocery giant. The same store had been the subject of a pray-in by local South Florida religious leaders earlier last week.
The 8-ft long scroll, entitled "The Fair Food Code of Conduct: A Declaration of Farmworker Rights," was unfurled and read aloud at the protest, and later delivered to a reluctant Publix representative. Here below is the text of the scroll in its entirety:
"Today – on this 63rd anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and as people across the globe commemorate Human Rights Day – we call on Publix and other leading supermarkets to honor and guarantee the fundamental human rights of farmworkers which have been violated and ignored far too long:
Whereas no one should be forced to surrender their dignity in order to feed their family,
Whereas “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (UDHR, Article 1),
Whereas “no one shall be held in slavery or servitude” (UDHR, Article 4),
Whereas “everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity” (UDHR, Article 23, Section 3),
Whereas these fundamental and universal rights – among others – have been routinely violated in the agricultural industry,
Whereas through the Campaign for Fair Food, farmworkers and consumers have forged a path toward the full recognition of human rights in this nation's agricultural fields,
Whereas nine leading food corporations along with virtually the entire Florida tomato industry have agreed to work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to set in motion unprecedented changes which have brought the dawn of a new day in the fields, including:
  • A raise in the tomato picking piece rate which had been stagnant for 30 years;
  • The right to speak out against unsafe and abusive working conditions without fear of retaliation;
  • The right to work free from forced labor,
Whereas Publix refuses to work with the CIW to guarantee and enforce these new rights, thereby threatening to undermine these unprecedented yet fragile gains,
We call on Publix to end its inexplicable and unconscionable refusal to safeguard fair and safe working conditions in its supply chain and just compensation for the men and women who toil daily to harvest our food and who make Publix's astronomical growth and profits possible.
We vow to continue this struggle until the light of a new day of respect for fundamental human rights shines for all farmworkers."

October 2011: Faith Moves Mountains Campaign

Florida Clergy have launched Faith Moves Mountains--a spiritual campaign which urges Publix to work together with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to advance human rights for farmworkers.

"We believe that with God’s help, Publix’s isolation and hesitation can be transformed into communication and cooperation with the CIW."

Won’t you join us?
On October 23, 11 IAIJ clergy delivered their letter while holding a tomato aisle
“pray-in” at the Millhopper Publix. (Photo by Renée Hoffinger)
To "adopt a Publix" near you, contact us for information, ideas, or materials: / (352) 377-6577

                   While IAIJ clergy held their "pray-in," others from IAIJ protested outside Millhopper Publix.
                                                                                   Paul Ortiz and Fran Ricardo

October 2011:  Demonstrating at the opening of a new Publix in Ocala October 13.

                                                           Richard MacMaster and Kimberly Hunter at Ocala Publix
                                                                           Kimberly Hunter and Veronica Musa
                                                                              Vero Musa and Scott Robertson

October 2011: Modern-Day Slavery Museum Visits Gainesville

October 1-6, 2011 The CIW Modern Slavery Museum visited Gainesville with day-long stops at B'nai Israel synagogue, The Family Church, Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center for the Presbytery of St. Augustine meeting, the University of Florida, and Santa Fe College.

September 2011:  "Cycling to Mr. Crenshaw" Bicycle Pilgrimage to Publix Headquarters

                       CIW cyclists arrive at Publix headquarters in the rain (with Kimberly Hunter in right foreground)

Kimberly Hunter of IAIJ did much of planning and organizing as an intern with CIW in Immokalee and cycled the entire 200 plus miles.  On the last day, when the cyclists reached Publix headquarters in Lakeland, a large delegation from Gainesville was among the throng of supporters meeting them there.

Oscar Otzoy (left foreground) attempts to talk with a Publix spokesman

Last week's 200-mile bike tour from Immokalee to Lakeland, home of Publix's corporate headquarters, may not have moved Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw to come out of hiding and meet the farmworkers who help make his company so successful, but it certainly caught the attention of a lot of other people throughout Florida, from the media to clergy of all stripes.
Southwest Florida's WINK TV put together a nice post-Pilgrimage piece, which you can find by clicking on the image on the right or here.
Also, the Orlando Weekly did a quick story post-tour, entitled "Migrant farmworkers and activists pressing tomato pickers’ wages 'turned away at the gates' by Publix." Here's an excerpt:
"... Surely, small groups of activists are ignored by large corporations all the time. But yesterday’s non-meeting was noteworthy given that the group spearheading the campaign, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), has earned a name for itself by not only securing such high-level meetings, but extracting agreements from them. Over the past six years the organization, largely comprised of migrant farmworkers hailing from Mexico, Central America, and Haiti, has gotten fast-food mega-corporations like Yum! Brands and food service giants such as Aramark to accede to their penny-per-pound request. In addition, the group brokered a historic agreement with the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange (FTGE) last November which not only allowed these extra pennies to pass into workers’ paychecks, but established an oversight authority to address complaints of abuse by bosses..." read more

Gainesville's weekly, The Fine Print, likewise did a nice story following the tour, entitled simply "CIW: Pilgrimage to Publix". Here's some of what you will find there:
"... Oscar Otzoy, an Immokalee farm worker and one of the six bikers, said the coalition only brought a verbal invitation for Crenshaw to witness the harsh conditions of the Immokalee fields.
'He has not accepted our invitation,' Otzoy said. 'I feel rejected as a human.'
Major tomato retailers and food corporations—including McDonald’s, Whole Foods and Aramark—have reached agreements with the CIW in the past.
'We thought Crenshaw was going to do the right thing,' Otzoy said. 'But he didn’t even show his face'...
Brianna Ramos, a UF freshman, said she was shocked to see Crenshaw ignore the farm workers.
'It is unfair,' she said.
Victor Yengle, a UF economics junior, said the 'pilgrimage to publix' wasn’t entirely a defeat for the CIW and its supporters.
'It’s great to see all of these community leaders united,' he said." read more

                                       Rev. Eve MacMaster reading the Gainesville clergy letter to Publix at Lakeland

And speaking of community leaders uniting, Florida's clergy have also been watching the Publix campaign closely for some time now, and the company's refusal to join in constructive dialogue with the CIW is clearly  starting to wear thin with many of them. At the culmination of last week's Pilgrimage, the Reverend Eve MacMaster from Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Gainesville read a letter, signed by now 31 clergy from the Gainesville area, to Publix. Entitled "An Open Letter from Gainesville Clergy to Publix Supermarkets," it reads, in part:
"As the Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. teaches us, 'In a real sense, all life is interrelated. The agony of the poor impoverishes the rich; the betterment of the poor enriches the rich. We are inevitably our brother's keeper because we are our brother's brother. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.' Farmworkers, supermarkets and consumers, we are all bound together.
We, the undersigned Gainesville faith leaders, urge Publix Super Markets, Inc, to affirm this reality and work with the CIW to do what is needed to bring the bounty of justice to all of our tables." read more 

                                          The cyclists who rode from Immokalee to Lakeland to talk to Mr. Crenshaw

A journey for justice

Coalition of Immokalee Workers, cyclists call on Publix to adopt fair food principles
September 20, 2011
Cyclists riding in the rain.
Cyclists ride into a park in Lakeland, Fla., where they hoped to speak with Publix about fair food principles. —Photo by Parrish Jones
“Biking 200 miles seemed a small price to pay for such a just cause as this,” said Bob Forbes, an elder at First Presbyterian Church of Sarasota, Fla.
Seven bicyclists took such a pilgrimage to the headquarters of Publix in Lakeland, Fla., to urge the grocery store chain to adopt fair food principles and pay tomato pickers one cent more per pound of tomatoes.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a partner of the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s Campaign for Fair Food, has long been asking Publix for a hearing to discuss these issues, but has not been granted one.
Publix is one of Florida’s largest corporations and one of the largest sellers of tomatoes in the United States.
Located just 200 miles south of Lakeland, the CIW is a community-based worker organization in Florida that works for fair wages, an end to indentured servitude in the fields, better working and living conditions and stronger laws against those who violate workers’ rights.
While seven bicyclists rode the whole 200 miles, many others joined them for part of the journey. Along the way, cyclists stopped at churches to speak and enlist the support of faith communities. On Sept. 6, the final day of the pilgrimage, they rode triumphantly into a local park despite the pouring rain.
Joined by about 80 people of faith from all over Florida, the cyclists celebrated with a brunch and then journeyed on to the headquarters of Publix, where they had hoped to meet with CEO Ed Crenshaw. They wanted to remind Crenshaw of the words of Publix founder George Jenkins: “Never let making a profit stand in the way of doing the right thing.”
The group gathered and prayed on the muddy bank of a pond located on the boundary of the Publix grounds. Representatives of Florida several organizations made offerings:
  • Nancy Razvoza and Ted Zawistowski of Port Charlotte, representing a coalition of congregations, presented a bag of receipts collected by their members and a letter stating, “We will continue to shop at Publix if they do the right thing.”
  • An interfaith organization of 31 Gainesville clergy sent a letter quoting their scripture and calling on Publix to support the CIW.
  • Several clergy prayed for those who rode the 200 miles; for Ed Crenshaw that he may open his heart as God softens it; and for the success of the delegation.
  • Thanksgiving was given for the corporations, farmers, workers and churches that have heard God’s call for justice and the work they do so that farm workers may receive fair wages, safe housing and safe working conditions.
  • Vickie Mena and her daughters showed a banner signed by many CIW supporters from Gainesville’s Interfaith Alliance.
  • Participants were then called on to spread pine needles on the water of the pond as a sign of piety. In Mayan culture, the needles are a sign of peace, happiness and dignity.
Participants spread pine needles on the water.
Participants spread pine needles on the water as a symbol for peace, happiness and dignity. —Photo by Parrish Jones
“As we spread the needles, pray that Mr. Crenshaw will receive the delegation,” instructed Darinel Sales, a CIW leader.
In the end, only a very brief and unproductive conversation with a Publix representative took place before a security guard ordered the group to leave.
Oscar Otzoy, a leader of CIW, expressed his disappointment that the CEO refused to meet with the CIW representatives. Having been turned away, Brian McLaren, a noted evangelical theologian, led a call and response while the participants held hands to lament the failure of Publix to listen to the cry for justice.
Before, during and after the rally, participants spoke of the importance of doing something so simple for justice as the penny a pound initiative, now accepted by a host of corporations, which has helped increase the daily incomes of pickers.
“Until I got involved with the CIW, I had never participated in a protest of any kind,” Forbes said. “The treatment of migrant workers is such a clear example of injustice you have to do something.”
Parrish W. Jones, Ph.D., lives in St. Augustine, Fla., and is a minister at large in the Presbytery of St. Augustine. He has been a mission volunteer for Frontera de Cristo and in Colombia. He speaks and writes on mission, immigration, border ministry and Colombia. 

September 2011

     David Sleeth and Kimberly Hunter represented Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice as       participants in the Fair Food Summit at Immokalee September 15-17, 2011.

July 2011:  Collaborating with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice held two events, a potluck/meet-and-greet, and an Interfaith Press Conference, where over 20 of Gainesville's religious leaders sign onto a joint letter encouraging Publix supermarkets to come to the negotiation table with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and their Campaign for Fair Food!

Dr. Dennis Shuman of P'nai Or Gainesville Jewish Renewal Congregation explains to those gathered at Gainesville City Hall, "We must do more than bless the food we eat; we must sanctify it by working harder to stop the exploitation of farm labor."

Gainesville faith leaders to Publix:
"The demands of conscience, of the Godly requirements of justice and compassion, call us to support the Campaign for Fair Food!"
Last Thursday, in an interfaith assembly spanning the Abrahamic traditions, nearly two dozen local religious leaders held a press conference at Gainesville City Hall to release a stirring open letter to Publix, Florida's largest privately held corporation that has for two years resisted mounting calls to join the CIW's Campaign for Fair Food. Publix has thirteen stores in Gainesville.
The event, which was organized by the Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice and Affiliated Congregations to Improve Our Neighborhoods, provided the faith and community leaders with an opportunity to both denounce the long history of abuse in Florida's fields, as well as to celebrate some of the groundbreaking changes recently made possible by the Campaign for Fair Food.

March, 2011: The Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice collaborated with over 16 local affiliations in the annual National Farmworker Awareness Week, recognizing the Farmworkers who plant and harvest our food. National Farmworker Awareness Week, is an opportunity for communities to raise awareness and to acknowledge the work of the men, women, and children who harvest our food.  Several events are being held locally in solidarity with over 100 actions nationwide bringing together thousands of people.

Events Held in Gainesville during the 12th Annual National Farmworker Awareness Week (March 27 – April 3, 2011)


In July 2010 three people were charged with human trafficking and enslaving Haitian farmworkers on Alachua County land. In 2008, the workers had their passports taken from them and were forced to work without compensation, basic healthcare, and adequate food and shelter. This case is pending in U.S. District Court.

Panel speakers include Professor Kenneth Nunn, UF Law School, Professor Gerald Murray, UF Department of Anthropology, and Sherry Kitchens, MEd/EdS., President of the Child Advocacy Center.


This event honored two Latina/o civil rights leaders who organized and fought on behalf of farm workers and the working-class across the nation. The first part, at the Institute for Hispanic-Latino Cultures “La Casita”, celebrated César Chávez & Dolores Huerta.

The second part, at “La Casita”, consisted of a panel of community members who work with farmworkers, and a local immigration attorney discussing issues in the migrant community including workers’ rights and civil rights issues.


Think you got a pool game? Skills were brought to the table to help raise funds for an incredibly worthy cause:  The Harvest of Hope Foundation.  This charity fundraiser offered a singles elimination style tournament, which took place over two days with live music at The Backyard between Boca Fiesta and The Palomino.  The Harvest of Hope Foundation provides direct assistance to farmworker families.

This charity fundraise will offer a singles elimination style tournament which will take place over two days.

This charity fundraise will offer a singles elimination style tournament which will take place over two days.


Faced with an unfathomable increase in violence and a hard-hitting economic crisis, Ciudad Juárez and other cities along the border are struggling to survive. During the "Ciudad Juárez: The other side of globalization" speaking tour, Verónica Leyva of the Mexico Solidarity Network discussed the grassroots struggle at the border to confront militarization, violence against women, increased internal migration, and the ties between the narco conflict and free trade.


Local Sponsors: Alachua County Labor Party, CHISPAS, Civic Media Center, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Gainesville International Socialist Organization, Harvest of Hope Foundation, Institute for Hispanic-Latino Cultures “La Casita”, Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice, National Farm Worker Ministry, Fl., Mexico Solidarity Network, Rural Women’s Health Project, Student Farm Worker Alliance, UF, Students for a Democratic Society, UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, UNA-USA, Gainesville Chapter.

National Sponsors: University of FL Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, Centro Campesino, Inc., Duke Students for Humane Borders, Farmworker Association of Florida, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, Farm Worker Pesticide Project, NC Farmworker Ministry Committee, The Farmworkers Support Committee (CATA), Justica for Migrant Workers, Mi Gente-Duke, NC Field, National Farm Worker Ministry and YA-YA, PCUN,  Pesticide Action Network North America, Student Farmworker Alliance, Syntiro-Maine High School Equivalency Program, Toxic Free NC, United Farm Workers, Witness for Peace, SE

To get involved, email:

July 26, 2010  Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice Organizes

Interfaith Alliance for Migrant Justice

Unjust treatment of migrant workers is not just a secular, global problem.
It is a religious, national and local problem as well.

The concept of IAMJ is neither new nor unique to Gainesville.  In response to the discriminatory law recently passed in Arizona (S.B. 1070), clergy and churches in several cities across the nation (Houston, for example) have united to support migrant workers’ rights, and we want to join them.  In Gainesville, churches have been supporting migrant justice for several years, especially through the Coalition of Immokalee Workers ( and the Interfaith Action network (  IAMJ seeks to make Gainesville’s interfaith migrant justice movement “official” and to use this organization as a firm foundation from which to invite more Gainesville faith groups to join.

You and your congregation are invited to an organizational, planning, and discussion meeting on Monday, July 26 at 7:00pm at the Emmanuel Mennonite Meeting House’s Beltram Peace Center, which is located at 1236 NW 18th Avenue, Gainesville, Florida. We warmly welcome and desire your support, partnership, active participation, questions, and ideas.  If you are unable to attend the July 26th meeting but desire to participate in IAMJ events, please contact us at:

How is IAMJ turning Faith into Action?

Past events:
October 24, 2009à                              We hosted and marched with the CIW through Gainesville to call on Aramark (the food company that services UF) and Publix to make their purchasing practices farmworker-friendly.
October 2009-April 2010à                 We helped mobilize an ongoing campaign to mail letters, Christmas cards, and postcards to the Publix CEO.
December, 6, 2009à                            We joined the CIW’s 2 mile march through downtown Lakeland (home to Publix’s headquarters) to call on Publix to make its purchasing practices farmworker-friendly.
January 27-30, 2010à                         We hosted and demonstrated with four Trail of Dreams walkers ( /
March 17-18, 2010à                            We hosted the CIW’s mobile Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum.
April 1, 2010à                                      Victory!  After we visited Aramark’s campus office, talked to students, and lobbied UF’s Senate to pass a resolution in support of migrant farmworkers’ rights (as part of CIW’s “Dine with Dignity” campaign), Aramark signed a Fair Food agreement to make its purchasing practices farmworker-friendly!
April 16-18, 2010à                              We joined the CIW’s 21 mile Farmworker Freedom March from Tampa, through Plant City, to the Publix Headquarers in Lakeland, Florida.
April 23-June 25, 2010à                     For 10 consecutive Fridays, we held a one-hour vigil (5:30-6:30pm) outside of the Publix at the intersection of SW 34th Street & W University Avenue.  We sought to maintain a consistent CIW presence in Gainesville, to continue to raise awareness about modern-day slavery in Florida’s fields, and to call on Publix to make its purchasing practices farmworker-friendly.

Current events: 
àWe are discussing how we want to continue supporting the CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food at our local Publix shopping centers.
àWe are discussing how to respond to the following event:  On Tuesday, July 6, in a Gainesville courtroom, three people were indicted with conspiring to commit forced labor and visa fraud, among other charges.  They are accused of operating a human-trafficking ring of more than 50 forced laborers on the property of Alachua County farmer, Steven Davis ( Thus far, Steven Davis has shown no remorse and the judge has released one of the accused (Cabioch Bontemps) until the next trial.

Upcoming events: 

àWe will continue supporting the CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food at our local Gainesville Publix shopping centers.
àWe will begin seeking justice for the Haitian migrants who were enslaved on the property of Alachua County farmer, Steven Davis.
àOn Monday, July 26, 2010 at 7:00pm, IAMJ will host a meeting for new clergy and congregations who wish to get involved.
àOn Thursday, July 29, 2010, the discriminatory Arizona law, S.B. 1070, is set to take effect.  If this happens, people, organizations, and churches across the nation plan to protest its injustice through economic boycotts, divestment, sanctions and other actions.  IAMJ will help organize and mobilize our local Gainesville community to join this national movement for migrant justice.
What does the Bible say about migrant worker justice?

IAMJ believes that people of faith who claim to be religious have a moral duty to demonstrate their faith through actions and lifestyles that are just and compassionate:

(James 2:14-17) What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

IAMJ believes that people of faith are obligated to obey a spiritual/moral Law before a political one and that this Law requires them to not only love God but to also love their neighbors as themselves:

(Luke 10:25-37) On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" …[the parable of the good Samaritan]… "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

IAMJ also believes that Jesus’ calls his followers to be strategic and intelligent—rather than foolish and simple-minded—as they work for justice and love their neighbors:

(Matthew 10:16) Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

In summary, IAMJ believes people of faith should actively and intelligently demonstrate their faith by working for justice and loving their neighbors, and we believe that not only are “migrant workers” included in the term “neighbors,” but they are also specifically mentioned in numerous contexts throughout the Bible:

(Exodus 22:21) You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
(Leviticus 19:33-34) When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
(Deuteronomy 27:19) Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’
(Malachi 3:5) Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
(Matthew 25:35) For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…