Migrant Laborers

Migrant laborers slip through the tattered safety net in Texas, By Jay Root, June 30, 2014, Texas Tribune: “Along a street lined with warehouses on the east side of Houston, nine Mexican laborers working about 20 feet off the ground are tearing up a concrete roof with handmade pickaxes.They are chiseling it out, one mattress-size panel at a time, then shoving the debris onto the floor below. There’s a giant pile of rubble down there, a jumble of dirty insulation, tar-covered roof decking and fire-suppression water pipes ripped from the building’s interior. To call the work hazardous would be an understatement. The workers are standing on the very roof they are demolishing, and none of them is wearing so much as a hard hat, let alone fall protection equipment like harnesses and lanyards. Technically, federal authorities require that, but the chances of a surprise inspection — or any interference from a state government that brags about its light regulations. . .”

Migrant Workers and Food Insecurity – Minnesota

The face of hunger: Migrant workers in southern Minn., By Julie Siple, July 12, 2011, Minnesota Public Radio: “Every year, workers from the Rio Grande Valley of Texas gather their children and clothes and drive 1,500 miles to Minnesota, in an annual migration that spans generations. Most will head for the vegetable processing plants sprinkled across southern Minnesota, where they work for a handful of companies, including Seneca Foods Corp. They process peas and corn and other vegetables that wind up on your grocery store shelf. A number of the workers arrive with almost nothing, having spent the money they made the year before. That brings many to the Salvation Army Montgomery Food Shelf, 50 miles south of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, where their numbers are a challenge for volunteers…”

Health and Poverty – Texas

Major health problems linked to poverty, By Emily Ramshaw, July 9, 2011, New York Times: “Laura knows what comfort feels like: Before leaving Reynosa, Mexico, for Texas a few years ago, she lived with her in-laws in a house with bedrooms and flushing toilets, with electricity and a leak-free roof. Now, the 23-year-old – since deserted by her husband but still helped financially by his father – pays $187 a month to live in a dirt-floored shack that is part broken-down motor home, part splintered plywood shed. She bathes her five runny-nosed, half-clothed children, all under 10, with water siphoned from a neighbor’s garden hose. And she scrubs their diapers and school uniforms in the same sink where she rinses their dinner beans. As she glanced sheepishly at her feet, Laura, who declined to give her name because of her immigration status, pointed out the family’s bathroom: a makeshift outhouse, only yards from the large scrap pile her youngest children scale like a mountain. She would return to a better life in Mexico, she said, if she were not sure her children would have a brighter future in the United States. The conditions in which Laura and her children live are common for the roughly half-million people living in Texas’ colonias. These impoverished communities are found in all border states, but Texas, with the longest border, has the most, an estimated 2,300…”

Drought and Hunger – Niger, Africa

Millions face hunger in arid belt of Africa, By Jon Gambrell (AP), May 28, 2010, Modesto Bee: ” At this time of year, the Gadabeji Reserve should be refuge for the nomadic tribes who travel across a moonscape on the edge of the Sahara to graze their cattle. But the grass is meager after a drought killed off the last year’s crops. Now the cattle are too weak to stand and too skinny to sell, leaving the poor without any way to buy grain to feed their families. The threat of famine is again stalking the Sahel, a band of semiarid land stretching across Africa south of the Sahara. The U.N. World Food Program warned on Friday that some 10 million people face hunger over the next three months before the next harvest in September – if it comes…”

Migrant Workers and Remittances

The aid workers who really help, October 8, 2009, The Economist: “As the dust settled after the attacks of September 11th 2001, officials in America and elsewhere started tracking cross-border flows of money from migrants, in the hope of nabbing terrorists. Remittance agencies were regulated more heavily; cash transfers from foreign workers were monitored. Not much was discovered about terrorism, but lots of new data emerged on the economics of migration. It was a happy side-effect. Over the past few years migration experts have gained a clearer view of how some 200m people working abroad affect the lives of compatriots who stay home. The impact, it turns out, is huge and benign. Obviously, migrants help their homelands by remitting cash on a vast scale. Armies of itinerant nannies, dishwashers, meatpackers and plumbers shift more capital to poorer countries than do Western aid efforts. (This may long have been true, but without the data who knew?) The World Bank says foreign workers sent $328 billion from richer to poorer countries last year, more than double the $120 billion in official aid flows from OECD members. India got $52 billion from its diaspora, more than it took in foreign direct investment…”

Brick Kiln Workers – Pakistan

Pakistan’s kiln workers bricked in by debt, By Pamela Constable, July 3, 2009, Washington Post: “At the end of a village road, behind a grassy bluff, lies a hidden valley carpeted with thick red dust and canyoned with craggy mounds of earth. At the bottom, clay-colored figures squat barefoot all day, shaping balls of mud into bricks. In the distance, a dozen scattered chimneys spew clouds of black smoke, which trail off prettily across the horizon…”