APOPKA, Fla. – A day after some residents and an elected official made false claims about a group of immigrant workers dropped off at a Maitland hotel, the CEO of Dewar Nurseries, the company that temporarily hired the group spoke to News 6.
“I just hope that the misinformation goes away and people go off of their convictions and change what’s right and wrong-I think that’s the biggest thing,” CEO of the Apopka-based nursery William Dewar said.
Dewar defended the 82 workers he hired, and the legal process he follows in order to hire them.
“That program goes through the Department of Labor,” Dewar said. “It’s really an attack on humanity is what it is, right? I mean, I’m different than you and so you don’t like me and so you know that’s the sad part.”
Dewar Nurseries said it applied for H-2A visas for its workers from Mexico which allows them to come into the United States for temporary agricultural work.
“Our responsibilities start at the border. So we have to bring them here and then we have to take them back when the program is finished,” Deward said. “That program is essential for us to ramp up our labor force in the holidays, that’s when we do a high percentage of our dollars for the year.”
The company said it’s been using that federal government program for the past six years during their busiest seasons--for example, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s day--to employ workers.
“If we didn’t have that program we would not stay in business and so that supplements domestic labor,” Dewar said.
Sister Anna Kendrick has been working with immigrant field workers for 50 years and was outraged by the misinformation put out on social media that led to Dewar’s defense on Tuesday.
“They are vetted, they are legally here and they are working on a contract. They are not illegal aliens and they are not bad people and they are not taking away anything from anybody,” Kendrick said. “This whole fracas is based on misinformation which isn’t just misinformation it is lies. It is people telling an untruth about how that system works and who these workers are.”
Yesica Ramírez left her hometown of Michoacan, Mexico 21 years ago with her parents. She said in search of the American dream. Ramírez said she was 16 when they arrived in Central Florida and worked in farm fields. She now works for the Florida Farmworkers Association.
“Yo si me sentía con el corazón roto porque yo fui campesina porque yo vengo de familia campesina y ver esos muchachos que los están poniendo ilegales,” the 37 year-old said in her native Spanish that she felt heartbroken because she was a farm worker and comes from a farm working family, adding it wasn’t fair for those workers to be portrayed as illegals.
Dewar hopes this incident will better inform those who retweeted and believed Representative Sabatini’s comments on the matter.
“Hopefully we kind of get past this thing you know the hateful rhetoric and say you know things like what they are,” Dewar said.