Of Berries and Migrants


My family LOVES fresh berries. I know, you don’t care, but bear with me for a few minutes.  The local community college has a “U Pick” garden.  Among their fresh fruits are rows and rows of raspberries, both read and golden, and blackberries. They give you a bucket and you can pick all that you want for 2 dollars a pound. They are plump, sweet, juicy, and irresistible

I went this morning with the intent to stay for an hour or so and pick a pound or two.  But once I got going I couldn’t help myself. By the time that I was done I was there for four hours and I had picked twelve pounds of berries.

I enjoy gardening, I love it in fact, and I had a great time picking the berries. But I will say this, you could NEVER, EVER pay me to do it.  Picking berries is hot, hard work.  You’re down on your knees, then you are standing, then you are on your knees again. Then you are on your butt, then your knees, then you may be laying, then standing, and on, and on. Your legs begin to ache. Your arms start to hurt, burn even.  You get covered in dust and even on cool days you work up a sweat. As the sweat starts to cover you face and back the dust turns to mud. If you are not careful, you spill your bucket.

And we are not even to the picking yet.  Berry picking is tricky, sticky work.  There is an art to it, or a science, depending on how you view the world.  Some berries are not ready, some are too ripe, the select few are just right.  If you don’t pull just right then you can crush or ruin the berries, drop the berries, or tear up the vine. If you pick too fast, you are more likely to do damage to yourself or to the berries. If you go to slow then you are there all day.  Plus there are stickers and thorns. Lots and lots of tiny stickers and thorns. You get poked, your clothes get caught, and your skin gets irritated. Hours have passed and and I am still finding slivers that are stuck in my skin.  If you are not careful it is easy to ruin your clothes.  I may never get all of the morning’s stains out of my pants and my shirt has a few new holes.

SO, why am I boring you with my morning’s experience? We have heard a lot recently from conservative pundits and politicians about how immigrants are “stealing American’s jobs”. DACA immigrants, migrants, refugees, it doesn’t matter, they are all supposedly stealing “our” jobs. President Trump, with support from many republicans, has tried over and over again to limit how many people can come into the U.S., with one of the major justifications being that they are protecting “our” jobs.

I live in a farming community and I have picked enough fruit and berries to tell you that NO ONE is “stealing” jobs from “Americans”.  Migrants, in all their varieties, are not taking jobs from any “Americans”, they are doing the jobs that “we” don’t want to do.  They do hard jobs, dirty jobs, sweaty jobs.  They pick fruit and berries, they attach cows to milkers (and get kicked and defecated on in the process), they move hay and do jobs that the average White American does not want to do.

Whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not, if we restrict migrants there are jobs that will not get done.  The Idaho Statesman for instance, reported on how a drop in migrant farm workers could have a devastating effect on Idaho’s agricultural economy  which would then spread into Idaho’s production economy when it cut off or reduced milk production that goes to milk, cheese, and yogurt manufactures such as Chobani.

We NEED migrants, the USA needs them, our tables need them, our stomachs need them and quite frankly, not only do we need them, we need to be a hell of a lot nicer to them. They do hard, dirty work, and they do it for minimal remuneration. When their work day is done they are faced with poverty, racism, and eking out a survival.

SO, please, if you have complained about immigrants, migrants, and refugees, STOP now.  STOP complaining, stop worrying, and find a way to support them.  They came here to survive and to give their children a better chance, just like your ancestors did (unless you are a Native American, in which case you are not very likely to be complaining about the current migrants).  So please, do the right thing and help give them a chance to live the “American  Dream”.  And while you are at it, thank them for filling your tables and your stomachs with cheap foodstuffs while saving your fingers from all of those pokes and pricks.



Categories: Blog, Culture, Feature, Politics

2 replies »

  1. I will take your opinion on the agricultural migrant situation as fact… that is less than 2% of illegal immigrants. So, you make a blanket statement about 98% of other immigrants(not taking away jobs) to make a case about 2%of migrant agg workers

  2. You want Mexicans to do jobs that are too hard, too sweaty, and too dirty for you to do. I applaud you on your candor.

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