It was emotional for immigrants’ rights advocates to talk about a family they knew well. Supporters of the family of Selena Hidalgo-Calderon, an undocumented farm worker found dead on a farm in Wayne County last month, met with reporters Tuesday.
“We wish we weren’t here today. Three weeks ago a horrible nightmare began that was dear to us, an immigrant family,” said Rebecca Fuentes of the Workers Center of Central New York.
She said advocates knew the Calderon family because of an investigation of conditions of undocumented workers at a central New York dairy farm. Now they are helping Selena’s mother, Estela, grieve for her daughter and missing grandson Owen who was last seen May 16.
Selena’s boyfriend, Alberto Reyes of Mexico, has been charged with evidence tempering while authorities continue to investigate and search for signs of the 14-month old toddler. The Wayne County Sheriff’s Department called off the search for Owen this week, but the investigation into his disappearance continues.
Fuentes said Selena had been looking for help for domestic violence just two months before she was killed and that she was saving money to buy a car, but she couldn’t drive because she couldn’t get a driver’s license in New York. This exposes an issue common among undocumented individuals who are victims of domestic abuse, but afraid to call the authorities.
"Farm workers deserve access to safety as much as anyone else,” said Carly Fox with the New York Immigration Coalition.
Advocates say they will push for immigrants’ rights, including a bill in Albany that would allow illegal immigrants to get a driver’s license using a passport from another country.