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All they will call you will be deportee

17 May 2007

I’ve posted before about the Swift Meat Packing raids in Marshalltown Iowa (here and here and here). The January 12 raids rounded up “illegal aliens” at the plant which just incidentally happened to be unionizing in the middle of the day. This threw children on the tender mercy of the local Catholic Church, which was hard pressed to deal with the emergency.

Nothing was heard from the workers, who were whisked off to the Texas concentration camps (“Ritmo” and T. Don Hutto ).

WHO-TV, Channel 13 Des Moines reporter Kerry Kavanaugh and photojournalist Brad Argo, managed to track down some of the deportees, most of whom were from Villachuato, Estado de Mexico.

…many believe there are more people from Villachuato in Marshalltown, than here in Villachuato.

“Well there are a lot of places we could go, Marshalltown is one of the places that has a lot of people from Villachuato,” Alvico says.

Alvico recounts the day of the raid, “Everyone felt really bad because they were leaving their families there and everything they had earned. I left my home, my things.”

We wanted to see who is working. We traveled just outside of Villachuato to “el campo” or the fields. That’s where we find 16-year-old Fermin Laguna picking strawberries. Laguna says he dropped out of school to work full time in “el campo.” Laguna says his reason is simple, “…so that I can give my family food, and support my family.”

On this day in “el campo”, about a dozen people are picking strawberries. You might consider *them the lucky ones. Today they have a job. Laguna says he gets paid based on how many boxes of strawberries he fills. On a good day, he makes 120 pesos, or $12. On a slow day he makes 60 pesos, or $6 for an entire days’ work.

“It’s not worth it, but there’s nothing else,” Laguna says.

All of the people we met say “nothing” leaves them with one alternative.

“We’re planning on going back,” says Leticia Cabrera-Rodriguez. In fact, most people we talked to in Mexico say they want to return to the United States someday, with or without papers.

The two part series is on the TV channel’s website.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 17 May 2007 1:48 am

    I remember hearing about them raids in the news. Que gacho. I’ll be watching for that 2 part series it sounds interesting. Gracias!

  2. 18 May 2007 8:06 pm

    Ya know…most young folk I speak to here in Tampico kind of know that the streets of ‘el otro lado’ aren’t always paved with gold.

    It always makes me smile a little with such stories of earning less in the US than in Mexico. My 16 year old employees earn MN$100 per day in the hand – for light, retail work. Every store has vacancies, there’s a ton of jobs here.

    I have just given jobs to two sisters from Veracruz who came to Tampico looking for work. They are well-presented, cheerful and hard working and will probably move in a year or so on to better things.

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