LOS ANGELES – Mired in poverty and with barely any hope of emerging from it, Latin American peasants who came to the US seeking the American Dream are bequeathing to their children a yearning that they hope President Donald Trump will not snatch away with his immigration policies.
“For me, the American Dream is being able to give my kids something better. What is better? Food, a home, ... a better education, the education that I didn’t have,” Beatriz Aguiar, a worker on the Martinez cilantro farm in Oxnard, California, told EFE.
The coordinator of fieldworkers, mother of two Mexican-born children and two young Americans, says that Trump and his moves to increase control over immigration have sparked “a lot of racism” against Hispanics.
They are policies that have many migrant workers nervous about their futures as they arrive at 6 am to plant or harvest vegetables and fruit in exchange for pay on which they can barely get by.
Adriana Almazan, from Mexico’s Oaxaca state, told EFE that the average annual income for the fieldworkers she shows is between $23,000 and $27,000, with which they live frugally in the US and try to send remittances back to their relatives in Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador.
The US government sets the poverty line at $12,140 or below in annual earnings for an individual and $25,100 for a family of four.
Poverty is not what concerns the fieldworkers most, but rather the growing number of “raids” by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents.
In the field planting cilantro, with her face half covered with a handkerchief, Mexican Carla Acevedo told EFE that “without Latinos, the US would be nothing,” because Hispanics do “all the work that a ‘gringo’ will not do.”
But Librado Alvarez, also from Oaxaca, “dreams of a better future” in the US, although he said that “it’s difficult” if lawmakers in Washington will not approve immigration reform benefiting the roughly 11 million undocumented migrants living in this country.
“My kids can achieve a dream in the future that possibly I won’t be able to achieve,” he said with a certain resignation.
Arturo Rodriguez, the president of the United Farm Workers Union, said that some “1.6 million fieldworkers” work in the US, of whom 95 percent are Latino and more than 70 percent are undocumented.
The immigrant farmworkers “have lived in the US for some time, they have kids born here, so they deserve the opportunity to enjoy the American Dream,” he said.