But when a natural disaster strikes, undocumented immigrants are ineligible for most disaster aid or unemployment benefits. Even if an undocumented parent has U.S-born children who are eligible for federal emergency relief funds, the personal information required by these agencies can discourage them from applying. During the 2017 fires, rumors circulated that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was going to local evacuation centers. Those rumours were unfounded, but they deterredundocumented immigrants all the same.
During last year's fires, Correa recalls seeing "a flock of people sleeping in the Walmart parking lot in their cars, because they were too afraid to go down to the community college and get a couple of blankets and a cot for their children. ... The fear of being deported is keeping them from being helped."
Correa documented what she saw, and the photographs she took inspired her latest oil paintings. In one painting, a woman is bent over a large bin of freshly cut grapes. It's dark, so she's wearing a neon orange safety vest, a headlamp to see her work and a bandana tied around her mouth and nose to protect herself from the smoke permeating the fields.
Correa, who has asthma, says when she shot the photo the painting is based on, in a local vineyard, she was wearing a particulate respirator mask, yet she still struggled to breathe. But she says the workers she saw were not wearing masks, and only some — like the woman in the painting — wore a bandana over their faces.
"Everyone was coughing, especially because they were running up and down, but no one was complaining," says Correa.
Winemakers were under pressure to save the grapes from the fires, as well as from smoke damage. The wine country fires of 2017 proved to be among the costliest in California's history, generating nearly $10 billion in insurance claims. Farmworkers felt the pressure, too, Correa says.
"This is when they were making the most money," says Correa, so farmworkers "don't have the luxury to say, 'I'm leaving town because it's unsafe' or because 'I don't want to breathe the air.' "
When Correa asked the woman she photographed how much money she was making, she said she didn't know. The woman told her that laborers make around $2,000 per ton of grapes, but this is divided among a complex arrangement of subcontractors, as well as the 20 or so grape pickers for that shift.