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The subject of migrant
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Cindi    Posted 03-14-2004 at 05:00:08       [Reply]  [No Email]
workers rears it's head again. Only this time, in my living room.

Most people know this.

Married people should not discuss politics with each other.

But Fred and I do. Often. There was a short blip on the news Saturday morning regarding migrant workers demanding better working conditions. Fred and I, as usual, fell on separate sides of the issue, and it got to the yelling point before we mutually agreed to drop the subject.

Fred is opinionated, and biased, and not shy about proving it. I am about as rigid as half-set Jell, soft-hearted, and easily led. We both understand and maintain our positions, and seek to manipulate the other into seeing things our way.

"I sympathize with the migrant workers." I said. "I see a class of people who work for next to nothing, and come here in a desperate effort to make some kind of income."

"Well then, they should be tickled to death to have the work, and be happy with what they can get. They may make less, but they pay less too." Says Fred.

"They live in their cars more often than not," I say "and roam from one end of the country to the other, doing work that many Americans turn their noses up at. They are nomads, and as a result have no address, so they have no stability."

"Yeah," he says, "which gives them the opportunity to skip out on rent, and leave places in a wreck."

"Well," I say, "if they weren't forced to live fourteen people to a one bedroom apartment, maybe they wouldn't leave it in such a mess. They don't speak English and don't understand our customs or our laws. I can't help but think that it can't be a happy existence."

"It must be happy enough, they come in droves." He asserts. "Besides, living fourteen to one place saves on rent, and puts no one in a position of responsibility as regards the good of the property."

"Well when you're living on fifty bucks a day, and trying to support three kids and a wife who may or may not be able to pick oranges, saving money on rent becomes a necessity. Besides, few people will rent to them anyway, because they can't sign a lease!"

"Mmm..hmmm. Very convenient. Look, they know what they're up against, and I say they do more damage than good."

"So assuming they quit coming... then, who will pick the fruit? Or the tomatoes?" I ask. "If farmers have to pay someone five seventy-five an hour, they won't find any native American who wants to do it for that. They will have to pay more, which will make prices of produce go up."

"The prices are already up! We may pay less for produce but we pay more for insurance, taxes and hospital bills to cover for people like them who run out and leave unpaid bills!"

Starting to heat up just a little bit now.

"They come here many times illegally," he says "and yes they don't understand our laws, so they don't adhere to them, and even if they do understand them, they don't adhere to them anyway! They get away with driving with no license, and no insurance, because if something goes wrong, they merely provide a fictitious name, or disappear. Do you think we could get away with that?"

"But how can they afford insurance, for example if they are only making fifty dollars a day? That is at most, fourteen hundred dollars a month, and that's if they work seven days a week!"

"They have every opportunity to make more than fifty dollars a day. All they have to do is come into the country legally, learn to speak English get a decent good paying job, and pay a regular rent and taxes like the rest of us! We have to pay taxes, why shouldn't they?!"

"But then..." timidly I go back to my original question, "if they do all that, they can't afford to make a living picking the oranges any better than we could. It doesn't pay enough. So who will pick the oranges?"

"Look, if we have to pay more to get the fruit picked, then we pay more. I would a lot rather do that than be robbed on taxes and at the hospital where you have to pay twelve dollars for an aspirin because these people don't pay their bills. You don't understand! It all comes out of the little guy's pockets in the long run!" He patted his wallet for emphasis.

"All I'm saying is that I agree that they should have better living conditions, and I'm surprised at you, your parents were migrant workers for years until your father started driving a truck. It's a hard scrabble, miserable life, and you didn't settle down in one place until you were six years old."

"So? I bet they never skipped out on a rent or left a place in shambles!"

"But things were different back then. A farmer could provide a place for pickers to bed down at the end of the day without paying exorbitant insurance rates."

"Or worrying about someone walking away with everything he owned!" He shot back.

We had reached the critical stopping point. There was no way we were going to reach agreement and years of experience indicated that two hard-headed people are destined to disagree on some points and that's just the way it is. The important thing is, when we get to the polls we'll both be voting for the same guy for whatever our individual reasons may be. I guess that's as good as it gets.

Fern(Mi)    Posted 03-14-2004 at 05:16:23       [Reply]  [No Email]
I like this piece. Reminds me my parents going back and forth over an issue. Most times they'd come to a mutual understanding.
I found out yrs later they secretly differed in the voting booth. My mother keeping her secret until Dad's passing.
I should have known their was a secret secret in their married longjevity. Did never knew?
he he he

Cindi: I have to ask, did you just write this off the top of your head?

Cindi    Posted 03-14-2004 at 05:22:13       [Reply]  [No Email]
I just wrote what happened. I have astonishing recall for useless information or details, but ask when the tractor payment is due and I have to look it up. But yes, I just wrote it off the top of head. Fred and I generally see eye to eye on voting, the lessor of the evils so to speak. But on social issues. Oi Vay. No way.

Donna from Mo    Posted 03-14-2004 at 05:10:28       [Reply]  [No Email]
Cindi, I've worked alongside many migrant workers at the local orchard. I have the information straight from them that many of them send MOST of the money they make back to relatives in Mexico, where a dollar stretches much further. I have to say I pretty much side with Fred on this one. They get lots of free medical help to which the rest of us aren't entitled, and live together by choice, to stretch that money so they have plenty to send back to Mexico. I love the Hispanics. They are a fun-loving, family-oriented people. They are also the most skilled people at begging that I have ever seen. Very young kids learn early to make their eyes look so sad, you can't resist helping them. And I know that generalizations don't work, that there are all kinds of people in any nationality. I'm just telling you what I have experienced, personally.

deadcarp    Posted 03-14-2004 at 08:44:52       [Reply]  [No Email]
"the most skilled people at begging that I have ever seen." ? You betcha!
Did you know that mexican mothers get free babysitting in the border towns? Sure - gals get lots better handouts if they're carrying a squalling infant no matter whose it is. And its a welcome break from always dealing with hornay men, cuz it sends a better signal. :)

Michael M, Not to Mention    Posted 03-14-2004 at 06:54:44       [Reply]  [No Email]
that if one of the woman comes over here pregnant and delivers the baby here, it is a born naturalized citizen, and many of them PLAN to do this in advance. Think on it, pregnant at the end of the picking season, and back in nine months. Both mother and baby receive medical care, much better than in Mexico, and the parents get to stay here with their American born citizen leaching off of the system, indefinitely.

Cindi    Posted 03-14-2004 at 05:26:40       [Reply]  [No Email]
I know. All his points are valid. But he tends to clump migrant workers into the same category as the ones who live here, and at eighteen years old are claiming eight children as dependents when they have NONE and getting away with it. With wives who work under the table for cash cleaning houses, and everyone's on medicaid that we don't qualify for. The migrants though are in a different category they make incredibly small wages, work like dogs and have no place to lay their heads at night. I blame insurance, and I still say that our economy would go into a tail spin without them.

Fern(Mi)    Posted 03-14-2004 at 05:42:38       [Reply]  [No Email]
I know I speak to lightly of most matters, but every once in a while someone correctly strikes a nerve and I have to add or spout off on my own.

Someone once said they were a filthy poeple. That one got me, especially when I saw a woman sweeping the dirt in her house when al she had was dirt for a floor. A liitle water to hold down the dust. A little water to smooth out the surface. A little sweeping to keep her hobble tiddy. She plunged her family's clothes in and out of a bucket beating them on a plank to male them clean when these things were all she had. Ya! down trodden to earn the money to make their childrens lives easier.
I've seen migrants stay in Michigan stretching chicken wire on sasfras poles stuck in ground covered with roofing paper, and saw them make it. Near freezing to death for an English education for their kids while tradeing labor for better building materials when fair weather working season had closed.

Some of these folks, A lot of these folks, most of these folks are hard workers, careing people, and worthy our respect when they add to our communities. I've worked, eatened, and played with these peoples. The only real difference as in most cases is color and opportunity.

The _ell with it. I've said it. There!!!
And the name's Fernan

Donna    Posted 03-14-2004 at 05:53:15       [Reply]  [No Email]
They are certainly not dirty! I have been in Mexico and seen people living in squatters' shacks made of shipping pallets, and the clothes hanging out to dry were as clean as they could be. The only migrant workers I ever noticed smelling badly were some of the batchelors. Men of all countries sometimes need a woman to inspire (or nag) them to cleanliness!

Fern(Mi)    Posted 03-14-2004 at 05:57:24       [Reply]  [No Email]
A nag?
A Saint haven put up with me so many yrs!
Yep, and a lovely one at that.

looks like smoke    Posted 03-14-2004 at 06:03:46       [Reply]  [No Email]
to me keep it up fern maybe more good food and tlc

Donna    Posted 03-14-2004 at 05:29:55       [Reply]  [No Email]
It was the true migrants that I worked with. They are willing to work 14 hours a day, straight time pay. Many of them had phony green cards.... in fact, the boss helped them obtain them, told them how much it would cost and where to get them. He knew when he had a good thing going!

Cindi    Posted 03-14-2004 at 05:35:15       [Reply]  [No Email]
See that's another thing. A lot of the big growers will grumble out of one side of their mouth and then hire them at harvest time anyway. They know that no one else will do the work.

jeanette    Posted 03-14-2004 at 06:07:19       [Reply]  [No Email]
interesting conversation.. we don't have migrant workers where i live but a lot of hispanics work in the packing plants in the bigger town. it never ceases to amaze me how different peoples lives are in different parts of the country.

Michael M    Posted 03-14-2004 at 07:05:55       [Reply]  [No Email]
That is happening in our area too, and the thing that angers me the most, and IMO is a black mark against 'our people' is taht the naturalized immigrant workers in this area, often skilled tradesmen, do a better job, and often for a lower price. When I was doing construction, and I only quit that business last year, it had gotten to the point where I was using Mexican masons,concrete workers, and had two carpenters lined up if I needed them. It seems unfortunate to me that these men would do the kind of quality work, and do it for a reasonable price, that the white workers used to do here. And they would show up on time, and took pride in their work. By just doing a better job for a fair price, they are pushing the white workers in this area out of business. IMO, it is the fault of the white guys that this is happening.

Steve from TN    Posted 03-14-2004 at 07:17:13       [Reply]  [No Email]
On the nailhead, Michael. Too many fat gringos sitting on their haunches waiting on their gov't check and griping when it comes a day late. I know an entire family that collects disability checks because they are too danged fat to work. They are not living high on the hog but are living well enough to stay fat.

Jessie    Posted 03-14-2004 at 10:13:31       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I've used Mexicans many times and will again if need be. The reason is that when I needed a job done I needed it done without having to stand over someone. There is a reason why these people have found a place here and it ain't because of the present day aggressive nature of the American work force. I try to make sure they have INS cards and social security cards other than that they're the best workers I've ever seen.

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