Maylin Martinez

SYD 4237 – Immigration and Refugees

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Mexican Farmworkers in California

California is one of the biggest suppliers of farm producers in America, with 1/3 of the nation’s vegetables and 2/3 of the nation’s fruits being produced in the state. The labor for these farms is mostly taken up by individuals from Latin America, with a report showing that Latinos are 92% of the farmworkers in California, with Mexicans being the dominant ethnicity in farm work in California (Charlton et al., 2019). The analysis of Mexican farmworkers in the state of California will be discussed.

Many of the Mexican farm hands in California are illegal immigrants, who cross the border with the help of coyotes in pursuit of a better life here in America. The reasons for immigration vary from economic reasons such as to look for work to social reasons such as escaping violence in their homes. Pedro, for example, is a farm worker originally moved to America in 1983 from Guanajuato. After realizing that he could not properly provide for his family in Mexico, he immigrated to California in pursuit of better work with better pay. Many farm workers, like Pedro, do not go back to Mexico after thy have immigrated, often spend their lives hiding from authorities until they become naturalized citizens (Puerte, 2013). They keep sending money home to their families, often sending a huge percentage of their pay to their families. They do this while they implement ways to bring their families across the borders. However, not all of the Mexican farmhands in California are illegal immigrants. There are a good number of farmworkers who are children of immigrants, who are American citizens. These are usually children of immigrants who were born in America, thus becoming American citizens.

The state of California has made incredible efforts to improve the lives of farmworkers. The pay for farm hands, for example, has seen an increase from $14.77 to $17.51 per hour for farmworkers (Charlton et al., 2019). This has been done to make farming more lucrative for young people and to attract people to it. The state has also tried to improve the working conditions of the farmworkers, with legislations in the state being implemented to protect workers from overworking and poor working conditions. However, many of these efforts do not impact immigrant workers. Due to their status as illegal immigrants, many Mexican farm workers often face discrimination as farmworkers. They are usually victims to poor working conditions while working in farms. These poor conditions include poor pay, long working hours, and poor living conditions. They also have to work while in fear of possible eviction if they are detected by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Discrimination against Mexican farmhands also comes from society (Wadsworth et al., 2019). Many farmworkers who immigrate to America often cannot speak English and have trouble adapting to the new society. They also face racism and police discrimination as a whole.

California has made an effort to embrace Mexican farmworkers and many of them have integrated into the society. Farmworkers provide an essential service to California, and their assistance to the community has proven to be unmatched. However, there are still much that needs to be done to assist them.


Charlton, D., Taylor, J. E., Vougioukas, S., & Rutledge, Z. (2019). Can wages rise quickly enough to keep workers in the fields?. Choices34(2), 1-7.

Puerte, A. (2013, June 4). “I see the system as very broken”: A Pescadero farm worker’s story. Puente de La Costa Sur.

Wadsworth, G., Courville, M., & Schenker, M. (2019). Pay, power, and health: HRI and the agricultural conundrum. Labor Studies Journal44(3), 214-235.

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