Migrants Travel from South of the Border to Work the Fields - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Migrants Travel from South of the Border to Work the Fields

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You may have seen them around, migrant workers who year after year travel to Nebraska working the fields. Some of them venture here from south of the border looking for opportunities in the U.S. to help support their families.

It’s a bright and early call time for detasseling field workers. Many of the workers you see out in the fields are migrant Hispanic workers, some of which are here from Mexico.

Farmers and companies will hire contractors to bring the workers here by obtaining a legal H-2-A Visa, or a temporary work permit. This year, Javier Chapa hired 68 workers to detassel for Remington Seeds out of Hastings.

"The way I see it, it looks like this crew I've got is very responsible," said Chapa. 

He says for these men it's a huge opportunity. In 20 to 35 days they will have made about as much as they would make in Mexico working the same job in a six month time frame.

"In Mexico it's a little bit difficult for salaries; they don't make what they make in the United States. I mean it's a great opportunity to have the chance to work in the United States and be legal."

Javier’s workers range in age from 18 to 35. Many of these workers are farmers and have families, so working the fields of Nebraska pays for expenses back home.

"We are sending it back to pay for fertilizer and for clothing for the women," one said.

Another said, "Because there's very little work we decided to come work with Mr. Javier since the situation in Mexico is very poor, to see if we can build some rooms or to help ourselves since money lasts longer."

And while the field work they do is similar to that back home, minus much of the technological advances, what’s most tough for these men is the social differences of being people in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and are considered an outcast.

"They stare at us in a strange way the same as when they go down there, but it's the same because people can't communicate; that's why we feel strange in a difference place," explained one of the workers.

All in all, the workers say they feel grateful for the opportunity to work in the U.S., doing jobs which many Americans say they don't want to do themselves. And say as long as there's work and programs to help, they will keep applying and will continue to keep contributing to the world of agriculture.

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