The End.

Today we finished up the DukeEngage Program by participating in a community dinner where we each (10 of us) individually presented a powerpoint on the experiences of our summer. Some of us talked about our jobs, some about our homestays and some of us of our experience in the Borderlinks program.

My presentation was about my experience at the Southside Worker Center. Even though I greatly enjoyed the Borderlinks opportunities and my homestay, and learned a lot from them, I think that the most important thing during the program was my internship. Last semester I worked in a Day Labor Program with IDEPSCA (Institute of Popular Education of Southern California) which I hope to be able to go back to after college (in a year). For this reason, I figured it was really important for me to work in the Worker Center in Tucson so that the administrative experience I gained last semester was strengthened with an on-hands experience.

Because I received very great feedback on my presentation, I would like to share it with other people. It currently is only in Spanish, but I might translate it in the near future.



“Don’t throw rocks. You might get killed.”

Four months ago, 19-year-old Carlos LaMadrid was shot four times in the back by a Border Patrol Agent at the Douglas, AZ border wall. As the news media reported, Carlos was seen by Border Patrol climbing the wall into Mexico. As they started chasing after him, either he or another person at the top of the wall started throwing rocks at the agents. The agents then responded with bullets, three to Carlos’ back and one to his shoulder.

To protest his death, Carlo’s family set up three memorials; one in their house in Douglas, one at the site of his murder on the Douglas side, and one opposite of that second site on the side of Mexico. The memorials included flowers, crosses, food, other objects and, on the memorial at the wall on the US side, a message out to the agent who killed Carlos. On July 14th, however, the family received a letter from the Border Patrol giving the family 5 days to remove the memorial on the US side, or the Border Patrol would remove it themselves. The letter read:

“The Border Patrol does not allow anything to be placed on or adjacent to the border fence because such placement negatively impacts operations and creates and unnecessary risk to our agents.”

Charlie Thompson, one of the directors of the DukeEngage program recently arrived in Tucson, AZ. The purpose of his trip was to check on the DukeEngage program but also to “become reacquainted” with the border in hopes to be better able to carry out his new border project. When he commented that he was going to be making a trip down to the wall, I asked him if I could go with him. I had visited the wall in Douglas before, and I wanted to see what the Border Patrol would do if I jumped it into Mexico [of course, I actually wasn’t going to do that…]. The last trip was still fresh on my mind, so I was also going to be able to help Charlie locate the memorial since he wanted to take pictures of it.

When we arrived in Douglas, we first stopped at the Mexican Consulate. We were able to go inside and collect brochures and information on the Consulate and Charlie was also able to obtain permission to take pictures of a couple of the posters in the office. After this, we made our way down F Ave until we came to the wall. We turned left and drove until we came to a Border Patrol truck. Charlie pulled up to him and they both rolled their windows down. After a quick chat, we agreed that the Border Patrol agent was not giving us permissions to drive along the wall, but that we could go ahead and should just look out for restricted areas. The agent would also call in the rest of the patrols and alert them that two tourists from Nevada (as suggested by the license plates of the rental car) would be in the area. We drove off on the dirt road and turned our attention to the wall on the lookout for the memorial. Not long after, we saw it and made our way to it. At the memorial, we got out the car and studied the site. Nothing had changed from the last time I saw it. We walked around and snapped a couple pictures. I was also able to notice that there was another memorial on the other side of the wall, which I had not been able to see the last time I was here because the wall was thick.

Memorial for Carlos LaMadrid

A few minutes into the photoshoot, however, Charlie’s camera ran out of battery. We decided to scout out a McDonald’s and buy a drink while we charged his camera. An hour later, we drove a bit farther to A Ave and then headed back south towards the wall. Here, we decided to head east to check out other parts of the wall including the tank stopper contraptions. We got out of the car a couple of times, Charlie snapped some pictures and I climbed the various versions of the wall in competition against myself to see how fast I could climb it (very fast actually…). At one section of the wall, a Border Patrol truck sped towards us, but instead of stopping or asking us any questions, the agent simply waved at us and continued driving.

When we were done touring, we turned around and made our way back to the memorial to finish taking the pictures Charlie missed when his camera died. A few feet from the memorial, we noticed a black pick-up driving south straight towards the memorial. We slowed down and noticed two ladies jump out of the car with a smaller child. As the group headed straight to the memorial, Charlie asked me if I could ask the women if we could take pictures of their visits for his project. I said sure and grabbed my backpack to start looking for my flipflops. When I got out of the car, I headed towards the lady standing by the cross and I called out “Disculpe” (Excuse me). She turned around and to my very unpleasant surprised she was crying. I stepped back a bit unsure of what to do while the lady stared at me, her eyes red and wet, while the other woman, a younger one, stared suspiciously and a bit angrily at me. I got a little courage and said in Spanish “I’m really sorry. Look, I’m here with this man who is a professor at a university. He is doing a project on immigration issues to shed more light on things like the one that happened here. He would like to know if we can talk to you and maybe take some pictures if it’s ok with you. He would like to use your story maybe in his work so more people hear about these things.” I was expecting the lady to [understandably] turn me away, but instead she said yes and she walked over to the cross and hugged it, ready for the pictures to start. Charlie got out of the car and I told him the lady had agreed. Charlie stopped a bit out of respect and then started taking photos. The lady posed in various way always next to the cross, hugging it, bending down and kissing it and putting her arms around it. In the brief words we exchanged, she mentioned that she had been his “nana,” his grandmother.

The other woman began to trust us a bit more seeing the grandmother cooperate with us and she began to comment to us about the death of Carlos. “They shot him four times in the back you know? That’s how they killed him. And now they want to take this memorial down. Already they took our poster away.” She was referring to the poster that had hung on the wall. On it was a very raw message of the things that must have gone through the head of one of the siblings when they found out about Carlos’ fate. The writing was very representative of a teen texting complete with emoticons, abbreviations and spelling errors. Charlie and I had seen that earlier today, so we explained to the woman that they had actually just taken it a bit ago. This only angered her more.

The mother, in Spanish, then told us a bit more about the incident. He was on the wall when they shot him four times in the back. Then they ran over, handcuffed him, and dragged him to the patrol car as some proceeded to kick him. He yelled out in pain and for help, but no one did anything. The ambulance also took a really long time to get there. At this the other woman, who I now assume was his sister, interjected and stated that he had been a citizen! The siblings all had lived on this side of the border with his grandmother, a couple of blocks from this site.

The conversation changed to the memorial again. Do you get donations to maintain these sites? No, the grandmother said. They took care of everything; they had one on their house, one here and one on the other side. Why had they put one on the other side? I asked. His father lives on the other side, the younger woman claimed, he doesn’t have papers so he can’t visit the memorials here. As we spoke, the boy, about two or three years old, walked around the memorial, unaware of the tense and sad environment above him. That’s Carlos, the younger woman said to her son from time to time. The boy, confused more than anything, would nod and say a couple words and continue to inspect and play in the memorial. My sister in Mexico is doing a big research project on this case and other similar ones, you know, the younger woman said. The grandmother moved back to the memorial and inspected all the candles and other items to check they were unharmed. From time to time she would remember something else and the tears would start again. Charlie turned to me, can you ask her if I can give her a donation? Dice el senor que quiere darle una donacion, para que pueda seguir luchando para que dejen en paz esto. No, said the lady. But Charlie seemed hopeful so I pushed it a bit more. She nodded ‘yes’ slightly and I turned to Charlie and said yes. He took out a $20 bill and handed it to the lady. So you can buy more candles, he told her in Spanish. Mira, me lo dio para que le pongamos velas de su parte [Look, he gave me this so we put some candles from them], said the grandmother to the younger woman. Carlos, mira te van a poner mas velas [Carlos, look, they are going to put more candles from you], the younger girl said to the picture on the cross.

A few minutes later, we ran out of questions. I turned to Charlie and sggested we should leave so the women could spend time with the son by themselves. He agreed and I turned to the woman. She beat me to speak though, and she mentioned that she had a picture of her son on the back of her truck. You should take a picture of that too. Yes, I said. Charlie also took out one of his CDS cards and handed it to the younger woman so the sister doing the research could contact him. The woman nodded yes and said she would make sure that happened. We are going to leave now, so you can be comfortable here, I told the grandmother. She nodded, and I gave her an awkward hug. Thank you she said. Charlie said goodbye to the grandmother too while I went over and shook the hand of the younger woman.

We moved back and made our way to the ladies’ truck. On the full back window was a picture of Carlos dressed in a black dress shirt. In memory of Carlos it said. Charlie snapped a couple of pictures. Look, I then said, pointing to the bumper stickers near the license plates. “Don’t throw rocks! You might get killed!” the stickers read. Charlie changed the focus and also took pictures of this. Quietly, we then moved towards the rental car and boarded it. The women turned around and we took the opportunity to wave goodbye. They waved at us, we drove off, and the women continued giving Carlos some company.

La Migra [@ the Southside Worker Center]

The first worker I never met in person. From what I heard from my bosses, he was driving without a license and the police stopped him. He was taken to the ICE facility in Florence and recently was moved to the PCJ detention center. I met him through a computer screen, skype style at PCJ on the day one of my bosses and I went up to Florence to participate in a PCJ protest. PCJ has a really bad reputation for treating its detainees, especially ICE detainees, in a horrible manner. The worker on the screen talked in a nervous fashion. He looked thin (more than in the official SWC picture I saw), and had HUGE bags under his eyes. He told us he had participated in a recent hunger strike to avoid being transferred to PCJ. Solitary confinement put an end to that. Today, my boss told us that to plead for bond, he would have to wait until September. That would come to a total of 5 months before he could step out in the sun without chains.

The next worker I talked to a couple times. He was a not-so-tall man from the south of Mexico. He was small, but according to another boss, he was a really good worker. Of all the workers in the center, this boss seemed to really like this guy. We invited him to come watch a USA Gold Cup game with us at a bar once. He stood us up. I’m not sure if my boss thought about this, but I felt somewhat guilty until I saw that worker a couple days later, fearing that BP had caught him without a license while on his way to the bar. The last time we saw him was at an Academia meeting on a Monday evening. He walked in a bit late sporting a Pumas jersey, sandals and a notebook and pen under one arm. All the coordinators heard of him being detained from one boss. Apparently, this boss had called the worker’s wife to ask him something, and the wife had explained that he indeed had been caught on a different day driving without a license. He already had a previous order of deportation so by the fourth day, he was already in Coahuila, three states east from Sonora, the state across from Arizona. That boss kept in contact with the worker’s wife; her husband had been the sole provider of the family and now she was struggling to come up with the rest of the money ($385) for the rent. DukeEngage students gave some money, one of the coordinator’s church members gave some more, the Southside Presbyterian Church gave quite a sum, and our very own workers dug into their pockets without hesitation when they heard of their struggling comrade. Last we heard, this worker was at the Nogales border, crossing back home.

Today’s worker, I only saw a couple times and I never talked to him. According to a different worker, he was close friends with the one who was speedily deported (the second worker in this post). After much debate, this third worker had decided to go down to Nogales and actually cross into Mexico. There, he planned to find his friend and help him get back to Tucson. This third worker had been deported a couple times before, and as such, he knew the path back. When I heard this story, I could not help but to think that this guy was crazy to even think of doing that. The worker telling the story, however, explained that the second worker was afraid to cross with people he did not know: what if they were robbers, or drug traffickers, or assassins? This logic had also made sense to this third worker. But luck was not on his side, and while attempting to cross into Mexico, the Border Patrol had caught him. His whereabouts are currently unknown, at least until we can get a hold of his A(lien)-number.

Said a worker about the Border Patrol/ICE: “To think of the migra is terrifying. I would rather not even think about it. Even the [workers] here in our center that think they are so tough…as soon as they see the migra rolling by, they turn all purple with fear…”

One of my bosses posted on facebook:
“i can never get used to injustice. each situation is like the first time (no matter how many times i’ve seen or experienced it). cuz the moment i get used to injustice, i have conformed to live with it till the end of my days and i refuse”

How many more workers and other people before we put an end to this business?

Panche Be – The fight for Ethnic Studies in Tucson

Among other controversies surrounding Arizona is Tucson Unified School District’s HB2281, which seeks to eliminate the Mexican-American/Xicano/Chicano Studies program from Tucson public Middle and High Schools. Despite loads of (not just Mexican) students, educators and community members protesting on multiple occasions to the point of rioting, despite the statistics, and despite the testimonies, Arizona state Superintendent John Huppenthal still believes that public school should should eliminate this department because he is sure it promotes to its students a resentment towards the government (aka the white people). Supporting these “leaders” are a whole other bunch of community members who humph at the sound of anything having to do with latinos and their [illegal (remember to drop the i please)] immigrant agenda. To counter these beliefs, a group of Xicano Studies professors organized a public forum at the Southside Presbyterian Church on Thursday June 30th to educate both supporters and opponents of the program of what really goes on in these classrooms.

When I arrived at the church for the meeting, I was surprised to see the audience present: overwhelmingly old people. As the forum began, a Xicano studies professor introduced herself and the rest of her colleagues and announced that the purpose of the forum was to educate the audience present on what a normal day in this program looks like. This meeting would attempt to resemble a normal class period with the use of handouts, discussions, class questions, and a powerpoint.

The lesson began with a quick Mayan philosophy poem:

Tu eres mi otro yo (You are my other self)
Si te hago dano a ti (If I hurt you)
Me hago dano a mi (I hurt myself)
Si te amo y te respeto (If I love and respect you)
Me amo y me respeto yo. (I love and respect myself.)

Following this, the professors spoke a bit about the “Four Tezcatlipocas,” gods in the Aztec religion:

Tezcatlipoca – Self Reflection
Quetzacoatl – Precious and beautiful knowledge
Huitzilopochtli – The will to act
Xipetotec – Transformation

The professor explained that this information, characteristic of the ancient beliefs and the basis of the Chicano movement and studies, was taught so the students could learn a bit about the culture and beliefs of their ancestors.

The floor was then passed along to another professor who continued to talk about similar characteristics of the program. By this point, some of the information may have been too much for some people because the animosity in the room was noticeably increasing. “What are your credentials?” one older man yelled out at the second professor. Luckily for the man, he held a Bachelor and Master’s or the old man may have chewed him out.

The discussion was then moved along to something people could more easily deal with, meaning statistics. A table with statistics of the demographics of the population, the demographics of prisoners in the state and the demographic of university students was shown:

Native Americans……5%(P)….9%(C)….4%(U)
……………………….P = Population
………………C = Dept. of Corrections
……………………..U = Universities

According to these statistics, a youth of Mexican-American descent in Arizona is three times more likely to end up in prison than in a university. The reasons for this many vary, but the sure thing is that prisons only act as a treatment to a symptom and not a decease. A cure to this decease, however, was presented, to a certain extent, in the existence and exposure to the Mexican-American Studies programs in Arizona public Middle and High schools. According to recent (2009-2010 SY) study, students enrolled in the Xicano Studies passed the AIMS testing with Reading scores 5% higher than the highest-scoring ethnic group, Writing scores 10% higher than the highest-scoring ethnic group, and Math scores 3% higher than the the highest-scoring ethnic group. With this, it is safe to supposed that the Xicano Studies program in public Tucson Middle and High Schools is changing lives.

Relating to the Crowd

If stats were not enough for this crowd, however, the professors were prepared to demonstrate to them how the program attempted to relate what was taught to general American studies (not that it never could, since Chicano is an American (meaning it happened in America) thing to begin with). As the professor on the floor explained that supplemental readings were a huge component of the program, he passed around a four-page handout with brief articles on Mexican-American World War II veterans and the issues they faced when they returned home from the war. Along with this, an African proverb was presented:

Until the lions have their historians, tales of the hunter will always glorify the hunters.

The professor spoke a bit about the history of Mexican-American soldiers in this war, and then asked the crowd to interpret the pro-verb, as, he claimed, he often did so to his students. “The lions need historians,” “History is written by the winners,” “History has more than one side,” were various of the answers given. In this program, the students were able to learn about the contributions their direct ancestors made. Such information was not always presented in the history books written by the hunters. The lions had instead had had to make their own program.

Soon the conversation turned to Japanese internment camps. The lesson included information on why the Japanese had been placed in interment camps during the second world war. Up until this point, a lady of visible Asian descent had been more than rudely defiant when she made rude remarks and snorted at points made by the professors. When presented with this information, for some reason or another, her attitude completely changed. That analysis I will leave to the reader’s discretion, however. Is it ever ok to take away the freedoms of people in times of conflict? the professor asked. “No. Why didn’t this happen to the Germans?” a person exclaimed. “The difference was Pearl Harbor!!” yelled out a lady. The conversation turned tense and many people began to stand up and yell at each other. Despite all the animosity, however, this sight was great to see. These debaters not only knew their facts, but they had lived through these situations. These were primary sources with memories seemingly fresh in their minds. Furthermore, these debaters were following the Xicano Studies requirement of Panche Be. With Panche Be, you try to get to the root of the truth; you state your opinion and you back it up with facts; you give your stance and you defend it. These persons had, visibly, differing strong opinions on the certain subjects presented. In this arena, their opinions were being challenged, and as thus, they were forced to defend their points of view. Just like (sans all the yelling) the Xicano Studies students were being taught to do.

So, are they fostering anti-patriotism?

The lesson concluded an hour and a half later, the tension escalating to different levels throughout the night. One question, however was not answered until the end of the night: You teach these students this history, but don’t you think that you may be teaching them, although not intentionally, to resent their government (paraphrased)? To this, a professor answered, yes. He then continued on to explain that the classes were set up around humanization. If a student felt angry at what he was learning, he or she was encouraged to continue to research the subject. To let them stay angry would be irresponsible. The point of the subject, however, was to push the student to learn more, to become involved in his or her community, and to become proactive which would be a benefit to our whole society. To a degree, this program offered an opportunity for liberation, an opportunity for success. Either way, you couldn’t possibly look at any period in history without it sparking some bit of anger of resentment. In the Xicano studies program, you learned how to channel those feelings and knowledge in a good direction.

“Politics of Hate”

What did the U.S. say to Mexico? Give me five!! That was two years ago. This past Saturday, it almost happened again. Mexico still managed to win the CONCACAF’s Gold Cup though, so naturally, we partied a bit.

The next day my cell phone alarm went off at 5:00am. Got up, brushed my teeth and changed. Mike came out to the living room and packed us up some “bolsitas” with some snacks and off we went. We weren’t sure where the Humane Borders volunteer was going to meet us, so Mike left me on Drexel and 6th while he went off to Drexel and Nogales. The trucks are white and have huge water tanks in the back so you can’t miss it, he told me. Of course, I did miss it and when the guy picked up Mike, they came back for me.

Humane Borders Truck

We drove off back towards the downtown area, then in the direction of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum until we came to a gate that read Ironwood Forest. Mike jumped off the truck and opened the gate. The guy we were with, a former Marine, commented to us that the land we were going to drive on was private, state or federal, but he could never keep them straight because there were too many fences. This guy knew a lot of stuff, and unfortunately for Mike, who was juts as tired as I was and was now sitting in the front seat, he really enjoyed conversation.

Eventually the former Marine pointed out a blue flag in the distance. Those are ours, he said, they are signs for migrants to know that they can find water there. When we pulled up in front of it, Mike pulled out a pump which he stuck into the water tap. As the laws of physics dictate, the tube filled up with water to the level that the barrel was full. Because it was evidently almost full, we all piled back into the truck and made our way to the next stop.

Stop # 1 - Humane Borders Water Station

As the drive continued, so did the stories. And when Mike jumped off the truck to open yet another gate, the former Marine took the time to point out a huge water tank a few yards away which had on top of it a lawn chair. This, the former Marine explained, had some time ago been the look-out spot for a Minuteman. The man used to come out everyday and sit on his chair as he stared straight into the direction where Humane Borders had another water station, about 100 yards away. From this spot, the man was effectively able to terrify any migrants with the rifle in his hand. A bit after, the man had given up his past time, sold his property to some people wanting to create a vineyard, and had gone off elsewhere.

Minuteman Look Out Station

A couple minutes and many conversations later, after having driven through highways and through a lot of rough terrain, we arrive at the second water station. Here the former Marine made a disapproving noise before even stopping the car. Looking out the window, we could see the water barrel was tossed on the ground and the flag pole had been bent to the ground. When we got off, we walked over to the barrel and examined it; holes had been poked into it and the water had been fully spilled. As for the pole, it was too thick for anyone to bend it with their bare hands or body so I could only imagine that someone had run it over with their car.

Station # 2 - Vandalized

“Politics of hate,” said the former Marine. And off he went to the truck to unload a new water barrel and new flag poles. He put back in place the water barrel holder and placed the new barrel on top. He instructed Mike to fill it up and he walked over to the flag pole. Here, he instructed me to untie the metal wires as he worked on a different one. As he worked, however, he cut his hand. Finish it off please, he said, as he went to the truck to take care of his hand. The bleeding not yet under control, he came back and helped me arrange the poles back in place, when, once done, had a new flag waving in the hot summer air.

Fixing Station # 2

Fixing Flag Pole # 2

15 minutes later, we were on our way to the third and last station. Who could have vandalized the last station? Kids. Anti-immigrant people. People on the nation. Why? Hate. Many people consider leaving water in the desert for migrants wrong. They say it promotes undocumented immigration. They say it should not be our concern to help these persons because they put themselves in this situation first. These, however, are very inhumane opinions. They are ignorant and fearful claims. They are intolerant claims in a country that is supposed to be tolerant and democratic. The state understands this to a certain extent. Humane Borders receives some of its funding from a state program. They understand that it is better to give water to people who desperately need it, than to later have to search and pick up dead and decomposed bodies in the desert. For this reason, Humane Borders is issued permits for every one of its water stations. Unfortunately, not everyone understands the logic of this organization, perhaps largely because they are blinded by hate.

At the third station, many horrible “roads” later, this hate was once again evident. Just as with the last station, this station had a vandalized water barrel and a bent flag pole. We sighed and got to work. Mike and the former Marine worked on the water tank while I worked on the flag poles. The poles were hot so I dragged them quickly and tossed them. I decided to reuse the thick pole, but had trouble because it was a bit bent. Mike and the Marine also were having their own problems with a tank that had manufacturing issues as well as many holes we missed every time we filled the tank. Eventually, however, we finished the job. By now the heat was unbearable. I had decided to wear clothes that would let me breathe, but in this heat is was not possible, not matter how much water I drank. Poor migrant who found himself in the desert this day. And poor migrant that had wandered towards this water station the day before only to find a stabbed empty water tank. Politics of hate.

Blue Means Water

Borders – Photo Assignment

For our community dinner/reunion this week, we had to turn in a “photoessay.” We each had to take five pictures and write 3-5 sentences captioning each photo. We had to think about the border as more than geography, more than a line, more than a division of countries. Each photoessay was presented during our meeting and will hopefully be developed more throughout the summer for a final presentation at the end of our stay.

Geographical Borders

During my time in Tucson, I have found myself constantly gazing at the mountains in the morning or at night wondering how many people will traverse them in hope of a better future. How many of those persons will never reach their destinations and goals? The Tucson mountains are obviously not on the US-Mexico border, but they are a reminder of an inability to move freely. With them, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Seattle, etc may seem unreachable. [In my opinion]

Borders As Obstacles

Many of our members at the Southside Worker Center already crossed one to various borders. Every day they must also cross additional borders (in terms of obstacles) so that they may find a way to frame their existence as deserving in the States.

Borders as Intimidation/Opression

Our workers participate in a weekly assembly meeting where various things affecting the group or community are discussed. In this particular photo, the workers were listening to an immigrant’s rights presentation. In their opinion, they have no rights in this country. To them the border is, in addition to a line, an opportunity for success, or an unfortunate dip into oppression.

We give everything borders

I may have thought too much into the question about borders, but the thought came to my mind as I walked down Stone Ave. There are borders to determine where plants can grow. Where people can walk. Where cars can drive. This is not to say that borders are bad. This is simply a thought.

This Job Center is only seven blocks away from the Southside Worker Center. There are no visible borders to enter. But the lack of a Social Security Number of a Green Card prevents some of our workers from having an easier time getting by.

Cross-Cultural Borders

This, according to my sources, was voted the “Best” Sonoran Dog hot dog stand in Tucson (Tucson people really like to vote on the best of everything). Hot dogs are “American.” Hot dogs + Sonora + American Dream (owning a business). Borders crossed and mingled.

Everyone has got to have a dream…

The other coordinators had mentioned this to me before, but I wasn’t sure if it was true. Today, despite expecting many men to be off picking melons, they all arrived at the Southside Worker Center as they usually do. “I thought you guys were going to go off to pick melons?” I asked. Some just laughed, another one say he did (although later he told a different story where he had walked to Phoenix and the guy who was going to pick him up to take him to the fields an hour away backed off at the last minute). In a difficult situation where only two to three jobs are coming in to the Center per day, and where many of the same guys have now, to the best of my knowledge, been unemployed for more than a week, these men find themselves thinking of any way possible to get by (rent will be due soon). The coordinators and I have been in contact with one of the members who did go off to the melons. In our last call with him (today), he explained to us that the boss wanted to form another picking team. However, he said that if any guys wanted to come, they needed to arrive at the farm by the evening of the next day. A lot of guys were already coming within the next few days, and these were visa holders from Mexico. This brought me back to my experience last summer with farm workers in South Carolina. Abuses such as wage theft, overtime work without pay, bad working conditions, and no bathroom or water access in the fields only occur because the people doing the work depend on the jobs enough to overlook or demand fair treatment. The men at the center all have distinct professions. But in a bad economy where (some of) their unfortunate legal situations highly aggravates their difficulties, options are few.