Executive Briefings

Born in the U.S.A. and Working in the Fields — What Gives?

Nicholas Andrew Flores swatted at the flies orbiting his sweat-drenched face as he picked alongside a crew of immigrants through a cantaloupe field in California's Central Valley.

The 21-year-old didn't speak Spanish, but he understood the essential words the foreman barked out: Puro amarillo. And rapido, rapido! Quickly, Flores picked only yellow melons and flung them onto a moving platform.

It was hard and repetitive work, and there were days under the searing sun that Flores regretted not going to a four-year college. But he liked that to get the job he just had to "show up." And at $12 an hour, it paid better than slinging fast food.

For Joe Del Bosque of Del Bosque Farms in the San Joaquin Valley, American-born pickers like Flores, though rare, are always welcome.

For generations, rural Mexico has been the primary source of hired farm labor in the U.S. According to a federal survey, nine out of 10 agricultural workers in places like California are foreign-born, and more than half are in the U.S. illegally.

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The 21-year-old didn't speak Spanish, but he understood the essential words the foreman barked out: Puro amarillo. And rapido, rapido! Quickly, Flores picked only yellow melons and flung them onto a moving platform.

It was hard and repetitive work, and there were days under the searing sun that Flores regretted not going to a four-year college. But he liked that to get the job he just had to "show up." And at $12 an hour, it paid better than slinging fast food.

For Joe Del Bosque of Del Bosque Farms in the San Joaquin Valley, American-born pickers like Flores, though rare, are always welcome.

For generations, rural Mexico has been the primary source of hired farm labor in the U.S. According to a federal survey, nine out of 10 agricultural workers in places like California are foreign-born, and more than half are in the U.S. illegally.

Read Full Article