From PublicBroadcasting.net, WABE, “An Undocumented Farm Worker Depends on Work for her Livelihood” by Shomial Ahmad, 12 Jul 2011.
ATLANTA, GA (WABE) – View our slideshow of workers on a South Georgia farm.
Isabel Rojas has been working in the fields for around 25 years. For six months out of the year, she’s out in the Georgia sun picking fruit.
“Blueberries finished, we start with blackberries. When blackberries finish, we gonna pick grapes.”
From 7 am to sunset, she’s out in the fields, bending and plucking blackberries. She gets paid by the number of cardboard boxes she fills. Each box contains 12 plastic 6-ounce containers that you’d find in a grocery store. Some days, she makes about 90 dollars.
“If the boxes are little, sometimes I pick 26 a day. And three dollars and 50 cents each little box, I make about $91 a day.”
It’s not hard work, Rojas says, but it is tiring. The sun is too hot. Rojas’s back hurts from bending. Her feet hurt too. They were injured by a train when she was illegally crossing the border.
“And I depend on five pills daily. I’m not lying, you can see my foot.”
But despite the pain, despite the long days, this work is Rojas’s livelihood. It helps pay for the Tylenol to ease the pain in her feet, and the insulin shots to treat her diabetes. She supplements her husband’s income, part of which is used to support his family in Mexico.
“He’s a illegal, and he work the whole around year. But he don’t make enough for support my medicine, support his kid in the school, and support his mother.”
And while Rojas says that she’s only sometimes afraid of Georgia’s new illegal immigration law, she is afraid of being separated from her family. She doesn’t want the federal government to break up families, like hers.
“To stop taking the parents. When they split the family, people like me, I need my husband with me. Hopefully, they never take him to Mexico.”
Rojas says that she’d like to go to Mexico, so she can see her parents who she hasn’t seen in more than 25 years. But this country is her home now. It’s where her children and her grandchildren live. © Copyright 2011, WABE