(KTXL) — A new “pilot program” has been announced in California that provides free immigration legal assistance to farmworkers.

On Wednesday, a news release from Governor Gavin Newsom’s Office unveiled the $4.5 million plan that promises to provide case review services, legal advice, and legal representation to farmworkers who are involved in state labor investigations.

All of the aforementioned services would come at no cost to any farmworker seeking assistance, according to the release.
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“Farmworkers are the backbone of our economy, and we won’t stand by as bad actors use the threat of deportation as a form of exploitation,” said Governor Newsom.

He continued, “In the absence of Congress modernizing our broken, outdated immigration system, California continues our efforts to support immigrant families.”

Maria Elena De La Garza, an executive director of the community action board of Santa Cruz County echoed this sentiment, saying, “The Community Action Board is committed to uplifting immigrant labor rights.”

According to the Governor’s Office, an estimated 50% of farmworkers in California are undocumented.

The pilot program eliminates the fear of retaliation that undocumented workers could face, such as the threat of deportation, when attempting to file labor claims or provide information as witnesses.

The statement said that funding for the program comes from “existing resources” and is expected to begin later this year.