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Politics and Government

Support groups look at impact of Obama executive action on farmworkers

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Support organizations that work with immigrant farm workers are trying to understand how President Barack Obama's executive action affects people in upstate New York.

"We've won a small victory but we really have a huge fight in front of us," said Carly Fox, an organizer with the Worker Justice Center of New York. She describes her reaction to Obama's announcement as bittersweet.

Fox works with many individuals who won't qualify for deportation relief, and it turns out, that's not uncommon.

"The way the proposals are structured, New York state has a fairly high percentage of its population that would not be eligible for protections," Fox explained.

Jeffrey Passel of the Pew Research Center co-authored a study that found nearly half a million of New York's unauthorized immigrant population falls outside of the president's guidelines. Carly Fox attributes this high percentage to the many unauthorized immigrants living and working in the state's rural areas. She says the typical New York farm worker is a single man, who's migratory lifestyle prevents him from settling down or starting a family.

"For example, one of the farm worker leaders who's been here 18 years, he will not benefit because he doesn't have a U.S. citizen child," Fox said.

In the coming months, Fox plans to continue helping local farmers who qualify for the executive order, and those who do not, through legal action, activism and any support her organization can offer. The initiatives in Obama's executive action will be implemented over the next several months.