Yolanda Carrillo

Yolanda Carrillo
Location: Chicago, Illinois Cohort Start Year: 2019 Project Topics: Economic Stability, Employment, Environmental Justice, Immigrants and Refugees, Violence and Trauma Populations Served: Adults (21-64 years), Hispanic/Latino/Latinx, Immigrants and Refugees, Low-Income Communities, Migrant Workers, Rural Communities, Urban Communities, Victims of Crime
Chief Legal Counsel
Illinois Department of Labor

Yolanda focuses her work on advocating for low-wage workers in Illinois. Through this work, Yolanda has identified issues that critically affect the rural immigrant worker community that is also the victim of crimes. Within this community, a significant issue is the lack of access to benefits available for immigrant victims of crime. The issue arises from this community lacking access to individuals who can help victims apply for the benefits and from improper processing of benefits, requiring appeals. Yolanda’s project has sought to create a bridge between this community and individuals equipped to assist them in applying and receiving the benefits they are entitled to. The project has also sought to advocate for improved processing of these benefits by key stakeholders. This work is critical to improve the health outcomes of members of this community because without these benefits, they are left in a precarious position given their rural location, immigration status, and status as victims of crimes.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Creating a Support Network to Aid Migrant Farmworker Workers and Their Families in Rural Illinois
I will work to address the health outcomes, primarily of migrant farmworkers in Illinois and secondarily of low-wage workers in rural areas of Illinois. Issues that migrant farmworkers and rural workers face are a lack of healthcare insurance, lack of healthcare access, food insecurity, unsanitary living conditions, and injury or hazardous exposure to toxins at the workplace. These issues are amplified with this population because of their migrant nature (relocating from location to location every few weeks) and their remote nature (not known to local authorities or nongovernmental organizations [NGOs]). I will work to accomplish better health outcomes for these workers by taking the following steps: a) create a database that tracks migrant farmworker groups in Illinois by location and dates at location, tracking local health departments (LHDs) and NGOs; b) engage LHDs and NGOs to monitor and service the migrant farmworker community; and c) create a migrant task force between NGOs and state and local government. I will work with Legal Aid Chicago and anticipate a partnership with Community Health Partnership, Shawnee Health Service, The University of Illinois at Chicago, and Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Yolanda is an attorney who has advocated for low-wage workers with various issues such as working without proper safety equipment, pesticide exposure, impact of the public charge rule, food insecurity, and substandard living conditions. This work has allowed her to develop a perspective on public health through the lens of low-wage work and how it necessarily impacts health outcomes.

Click here to watch Yolanda’s Legacy Project video.