Here’s why Bernie Sanders mentioned tomato pickers in Immokalee in the Democratic debate

In tonight’s Democratic debate, candidate Bernie Sanders mentioned farm workers in Immokalee, a farming community in Collier County, saying he played a role in a fight by tomato pickers for better treatment.

Immokalee farm workers are often cited as an example of immigrant labor in Florida, whether the workers are documented or undocumented.

Carlos Perez Gonzalez, of Guatemala, gets dropped off in a parking lot after a day of work in the fields in Immokalee, Florida on February 20, 2013. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)
Carlos Perez Gonzalez, of Guatemala, gets dropped off in a parking lot after a day of work in the fields in Immokalee, Florida on February 20, 2013. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

» RELATED: 3 things to know about immigration in Florida

The 2010 Census found that about 70 percent of Immokalee residents are of Hispanic origin — with the bulk of those being farm workers.

The Palm Beach Post has reported extensively as farm workers in Immokalee fight for rights:

• In 2011, The Palm Beach Post reported on deals some workers in Immokalee made with a handful of fast-food chains — Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway and Taco Bell — for the workers to receive higher earnings for the tomatoes they picked that were sold to those companies. (Read more about that.)

• Immokalee pickers also have fought for tougher penalties for farms that violate pesticide rules, along with stricter training and oversight. (Read more about that.)

• In a ground-breaking article, The Palm Beach Post in 2005 told the story of Carlitos, a baby born with no arms and no legs to an Immokalee farm worker. (Read the full story.)

• In 2003, The Post reported on how migrants farm workers travel from the Mexican border to Florida, braving dangerous conditions in a modern-day slave trade. (Read the full story.)

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