Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $274,845)
Migrant Legal Aid requests $300,000 to implement the Defending Against Hate program in Kent, Allegan, Oceana, Ottawa, Newaygo, and Muskegon counties in West Michigan. The purpose is to better protect and advocate for migrant farmworkers by providing cultural competency education to local law enforcement and judiciary systems, as well as providing education to the migrant worker community about their rights. Project activities include: informing migrant workers about their rights, encouraging migrant workers to report crimes or acts of hate / harassment, etc., providing education to local law enforcement/judicial staff that dispels misconceptions about the migrant community and that encourages empathy / understanding, and facilitating positive interactions between law enforcement and the migrant worker community. Specific issues to be addressed in the project include: migrant workers’ distrust of law enforcement that leads to lower rates of crimes reported, migrant workers’ lack of understanding of their rights / how to advocate for themselves, and law enforcement’s lack of understanding culturally-specific information when working with the migrant worker community. Expected outcomes include: hate crime prevention, promotion of community awareness / resiliency / preparedness / healing, increased victim reporting of hate incidents, and improved responses to hate crimes. The following data will be used to assess and enhance the reporting of hate crimes: # of migrant workers educated about their rights, # of materials distributed to migrant workers, # of presentations provided to law enforcement/judicial staff, # of law enforcement/judicial staff individuals that participated in the presentations, and Pre / Post Surveys in each group that identifies the impact of education. Migrant workers in West Michigan are the intended beneficiaries of the project.