About DukeEngage Tucson 2010

Immigration is perhaps the single largest domestic challenge facing both the United States and Mexico today. People die nearly every week attempting to cross the border. Hostilities against immigrants in the U.S. rise daily. Local, state, and international relations are increasingly strained.

For eight weeks this summer, seven students have been given the opportunity to travel to Tucson, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico to study the many faces of immigration. Following two weeks of meetings with local activists, a Border Patrol agent, a federal public defender, lawyers, members of the Tohono O’odham Nation, maquiladora owners, Grupos Beta employees, migrants, and local farmers, we will spend six weeks partnered with Southside Day Labor Camp, BorderLinks, or Humane Borders in order to further immerse ourselves in the issues of immigration.

This blog chronicles our experiences and our perspectives on what we learn while here in Arizona. We hope our stories are interesting and informative.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Do YOU want to be a farm worker?

There are constant complaints of how immigrants steal jobs from US citizens. But in reality, how many US citizens will willingly perform the same jobs under the same conditions as immigrants? How many US citizens will work in construction, cleaning, or farming for less than minimum wage? I’m sure there’s a small portion of citizens who would. Perhaps more would want the jobs if they were paid better. Even in the terrible state of our economy, how many unemployed US citizens would refuse to work these “inferior” jobs? In response to the outcry for immigration reform, The United Farm Workers Union is challenging US citizens to work the same jobs as immigrants. At TAKEOURJOBS.ORG, US citizens can sign up to work in the fields. Since June 24, at least 4,000 people have responded to the Farm Worker Union’s application. While some responses are serious, others are hate mail. Only a few dozen of the applicants have actually followed through (http://money.cnn.com/2010/07/07/news/economy/farm_worker_jobs/ ).

Before leaving North Carolina, we visited farm workers at a nearby farm. Although this farm was in better condition than most, I still don’t know anyone who would willingly live there. The twenty workers cooked their meals in a trailer with rows of old, dirty stoves and then ate at one of the two picnic tables inside. Until recently, farmers did not have to provide their farm workers with mattresses to sleep on. The bathrooms don’t provide nearly enough toilets or shower stalls. Often times, the stalls don’t have doors or curtains. Men and women immigrants work in the fields for longs hours in excruciating heat. Those who work in the tobacco fields aren’t always properly equipped to protect themselves from getting sick from the tobacco. When they do get sick, they have to occupy one of the few toilets without any privacy.

Most Americans are ignorant as to where their food comes from. Farm working is a very difficult job. We need to recognize the hard work that immigrants do for our country. Accordingly, we should treat the human beings who provide us with food with respect and decent living conditions.

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