Asian American groups send staff to Half Moon Bay to help workers … – San Francisco Chronicle
Asian American legal and advocacy groups in the Bay Area are sending staff to Half Moon Bay to help Chinese farm workers navigate the aftermath of Monday’s mass shooting at two mushroom farms that killed seven people, including five Chinese workers.
Chinese workers represent a very small percentage of the agricultural workforce in region, and as a result there is little community-based infrastructure in the area that provides legal, translation and counseling services for Chinese-speaking workers in the sector, according to labor and nonprofit groups that work with farm workers.
San Mateo County has been providing Chinese and Spanish interpreters at the hotel where displaced workers are being housed to help them access legal and mental health services, said county spokeswoman Michelle Durand. Several AAPI organizations based in San Francisco and the South Bay are directing their staff to provide additional services to Chinese-speaking workers who may feel isolated or struggle to access support because of language or cultural barriers.
They include Self-Help for the Elderly, which provides health and social services to seniors, and Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, the legal and civil rights organization, said Carolyn Wang Kong, president and executive director of Asian Pacific Fund, who is working with the groups to coordinate the efforts.
“As Chinese farm workers, they fall through several cracks,” Wang Kong said.
Self-Help for the Elderly is helping translate notices and flyers into Chinese, and is organizing mental health and grief counseling for families of the victims, said the group’s president and CEO Anni Chung.
The AAPI groups have established two separate Go Fund Me fundraisers —
for victims’ families and survivors, and
to offset the cost of nonprofits going to Half Moon Bay to support Chinese-speaking victims and families.
The vast majority of agricultural workers in the United States, as many as 90%, identify as Mexican, said Darlene Tenes of the Farmworker Caravan, a group that distributes donated supplies to California farm workers.
The proportion of the agricultural workforce that is of Chinese descent is so small that when news emerged that the shooter and the most of the victims were Chinese, some in the nonprofit farm worker space were surprised.
It’s not clear what percentage of Half Moon Bay’s agricultural workers are of Chinese descent, but statewide, “it’s very rare,” said Antonio De-Loera Brust, communications director for labor union United Farm Workers.
That has not always been the case.
Before various laws in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century prohibited or restricted Asian immigration — including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 — Chinese workers made up a much larger proportion of the state’s agricultural workforce, he said.
Catherine Ho (she/her) is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Cat_Ho