Working the farm, while Trump talks tough on immigration




  • In US
  • 2017-05-15 17:15:38Z
  • By By Julia Love

By Julia Love

KING CITY, Calif. (Reuters) - On an overcast spring morning, about 40 Mexican men turned out in the pre-dawn hours to board a bus for California's Salinas Valley where they would harvest 16 acres (6.47 hectares) of lettuce over the next three days.

Hector Manuel Morales, 20, came north from Mexico to work the fields with his three cousins. He said his family worried about his journey, spooked by President Donald Trump's talk of a crackdown on illegal immigrants. But he does not anticipate problems.

While about half of U.S. crop workers are in the country illegally, Morales and the other men have H-2A visas, which allow them to work temporarily as seasonal agricultural laborers on American farms.

"We are not violating any law here in the U.S.," he said. "We come to work."

His co-worker Rafael Gonzalez Arredondo, 23, said listening to Trump's statements about Mexico was "difficult, but we are going to show him that Mexicans are hard working people, that we are not what he says."

The men came to the country through a labor brokerage company, Fresh Harvest, which brings in H-2A laborers to work on farms in need of temporary workers. This year, the company's owner, Steve Scaroni, says he expects to bring in about 4,000 workers.

Companies like Fresh Harvest are attractive for farmers who want to employ legal workers but do not want to deal with the considerable government red tape and regulations associated with the H-2A program. Employers who bring in workers on the visas must provide them with free transportation to and from the United States as well as housing and food once they arrive. Wage minimums are set by the government and are often higher than farmers are used to paying.

Still, Scaroni says he could find work for even more people if he had enough housing.

While use of the H-2A program has steadily increased over the past decade, it still accounts for only about 10 percent of the estimated 1.3 million farmworkers in the United States, according to government data. In 2016, the government granted 134,000 H-2A visas.

Alfredo Lopez Granados, 27, from Michoacan, Mexico has come north to work on an H-2A visa five times. He misses his family back home, he says, but the decision is not difficult.

"Once you are here," he said, "in one day you make more than you make in a week in Mexico."

(To see a related photo essay, click here: http://reut.rs/2qdtfnb)

(Additional reporting by Kristina Cooke in Los Angeles and Mica Rosenberg in New York; editing by Diane Craft)

COMMENTS

More Related News

Trump takes 'America First' to wary U.N. audience
Trump takes 'America First' to wary U.N. audience

President Trump will use his maiden speech to the U.N. General Assembly to condemn Iran, call for global action on North Korea, and unapologetically defend his nationalistic "America First" stance before wary world leaders, administration officials said. Chinese President Xi Jinping is skipping the annual diplomatic crush in New York, but Trump will at least implicitly criticize Beijing in his Tuesday speech for not doing enough to tighten an economic vise on North Korea.

Interior chief urges shrinking 4 national monuments in West
Interior chief urges shrinking 4 national monuments in West

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending that four large national monuments in the West be reduced in size, potentially opening up hundreds of thousands of acres of land revered for natural beauty ...

Hillary Clinton Won't Rule Out Questioning The Legitimacy Of Donald Trump's Election
Hillary Clinton Won't Rule Out Questioning The Legitimacy Of Donald Trump's Election

Hillary Clinton opened the door to possibly questioning whether Donald Trump was legitimately elected president, depending on the outcome of investigations into Russia's role in the 2016 campaign.

Trump
Trump's week anchored by speech to UN General Assembly

NEW YORK (AP) - President Donald Trump is making his debut at the United Nations and taking his complaints about the world body straight to the source.

Pro-Trump rally draws hundreds, not thousands to Washington
Pro-Trump rally draws hundreds, not thousands to Washington

Organizers had dubbed it the Mother of All Rallies and hoped to bring out thousands to pack the National Mall on Saturday in support of President Donald Trump. In the end, hundreds of flag-waving demonstrators ...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.