Monday, June 17, 2013

Week 5 - Arcadia Farmworker Camp

Okay so last week I was able to go to another farmworker camp with one of the paralegals and three other interns and this camp let me see more of what really happens with farmworkers. Last week was the workers' last week here in the United States so they were emptying their apartments and they had all their equipment outside. The first thing I saw when we parked was the huge ladder that they have to carry around when they're picking. The height of the ladder itself made me shudder. We got out the truck and began going around to each apartment, handing out flyers to ensure that they were aware of their rights as H2-A workers and ask them how the season went. It was great to get to talk to the workers. I found out that it takes them 3 days by bus to get to Mexico and the company has to pay for their bus fare. If the workers want to go by plane and get to Mexico quicker, however, the company only has to pay for the bus fare to Miami and the workers have to pay for the plane ticket. As we kept walking, I noticed the sacks that they hang around their necks to put the fruit in. The owner of the apartment came and started chatting with the other interns and me. She was friendly (or so it seemed). She told us that the sacks weigh 90 lbs when they are completely full. So that's a 90 lbs sack around the worker's neck along with the tall and heavy ladder they carry from one tree to the next. The sad thing is all of the workers were underpaid but none of them really want to be a part of a lawsuit for fear of repercussions. As we were leaving, the owner of the camp (who seemed friendly) appeared to be going to each group of people who we had already talked to and intimidating them. She even told the paralegal that the workers "should not be relaxing. They should be cleaning up." On the way back from the camp, I kept thinking about all the people who say immigrants are lazy. I wonder which one of them would go out into the fields with a ladder and a 90 lbs sack around his/her neck. I wonder which one of them would leave their family for 5-6 months to come pick fruit for people who think that they are a disgrace. Yeah...I wonder...

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