The case of Hilario Valois
As a result of Welfare Reform and new immigration measures, a significant number of agricultural workers are now facing serious problems just to be able to survive. The following case illustrates the problem.
Hilario Valois is 70 years old. He is from the indigenous community of San Juanito, Chihuahua. He first came to US to work in the agriculture fields during the "Bracero" Program during the fifties. At the end of the program, he continued to come to work as an "undocumented" farmworker. Then on May of 1988 he applied for legalization under the Special Agricultural Workers part of the so-called "amnesty". Since he was able to provide proof of agricultural employment in US, in 1990 he was granted permanent resident status.
In 1993, Hilario suffered a stroke and stopped to work in the fields. He applied for Social Security benefits and was approved to receive SSI beginning September 1994. He was receiving $470 a month and at the end of 1996 he was notified that his monthly benefit increased to $484. In February he received two notices, one informing him about the changes to eligibility under the new law and instructions in how to apply for citizenship and the other to inform him that he didn't not qualified to receive benefits from September 1994 to the present. He also received a notice from the state informing him that since he no longer qualified for Social Security benefits, he was no longer eligible for Medicaid benefits. To end this, in March, he received a notice of overpayment from the Social Security Administration in the amount of $13,724.47.
Mr. Valois is very old and ill to go back to work in the fields. His family back in Mexico is very poor to be able to take care of him. He can't read or write in Spanish so he may not be able to pass the citizenship test.
We estimated that a least 3,000 old farmworkers of this region are in the same situation.
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