IMPORTANT! To provide a personalized LatinLife experience, please enable your Geolocation

This Farmworker Became A Doctor & Now Provides Medical Sanctuary For Other Migrant Farmworkers

Culture & Community By O. DELGADO
This Farmworker Became A Doctor & Now Provides Medical Sanctuary For Other Migrant Farmworkers

He picked fruit with his family for over a decade.  Now, Dr. J Luis Bautista has returned to the fields to provide medical care to other migrant laborers, protecting them from la migra and never turning anyone away because they can't pay, reports NBC.

Dr. J. Luis Bautista sees thousands of migrant farmworkers at his two clinics in northern California.  He never asks for documentation and never turns anyone away for lack of money, although he does take payment in onions, eggs, chicken, and even handmade crafts, whatever his patients can offer.

Bautista was born in Fresno, but deported to Mexico as a baby with his parents.  He and his family lived in Mazatlán before eventually returning to the U.S., where Bautista and his nine siblings picked fruit alongside their parents in Ventura County.  They made $4,000 a year.

"I pledged in medical school to help these people in the farm fields. I knew how it felt not to have anything, not to have the money to go to a doctor," says Bautista.

"We never say no to patients."

Bautista was 24-years-old, picking fruit in the fields, when his mother came running out with a letter: he'd been accepted to the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Two of Bautista's four sons are also doctors. His third is a physician's assistant and the fourth is a clinic manager. In 2013, Bautista started a nonprofit to provide migrant families with college scholarships, as well as food and clothing. 

Bautista's contributions to his community are invaluable. Of the 30,000 patient visits to his two clinics every year, the majority are migrant laborers who would otherwise be suffering and even dying of treatable diseases because they could not afford or would be too frightened of deportation to see a doctor. 

Bautista's clinics provide a safe place for migrant workers to seek medical care.  Staff is on guard for la migra, asking for warrants and protecting patients.  "By the time any ICE officers got inside the office, we’d have people hiding in the restrooms," Bautista assures.

Julia Rojas, undocumented migrant laborer and mother of five, says:

"I feel secure with him. He's one of us."