Migrant Workers' Children
Written by Cynthia, Iselda, Ezequiel and Albert
Migrant Life Through the Eyes of the Child
(Students at Pasco High School in Washington conducted interviews of themselves and family members. The information on this page was adapted from a website no longer in service.)
I was born in Mexico, Tamaulipas Rio Bravo on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1980. They say when I was born it was time for the turkey, but I did not taste it, because I was just born. On April 12, 1989 I came to the United States of America, it was a lot different from the place that I came from. In Mexico where I use to live was, very different from here, such as when it rains it was really muddy, There is a lot of dirt so when it was windy dirt blew around the whole city. Basically there's nothing much to do in Mexico when I was there. All I did was play in the dirt, get muddy, bare foot all day playing in the sun. Sometimes we got in trouble for playing in places that we should not have played in, but all we wanted to do was have a little fun.
What a shock when I started working in the fields at 8 years old. I did not work as hard as they did, but I did help my father, my brothers and sister with their rows so they could finish fast. They wanted to finish early so they could start another row to finish early, and go home and rest and come back the next day to work again in the sun and the fields. After that year my father decided to keep coming back to Washington because we earned money. Within two years I was working as hard as they did taking only one row, but it was still a lot of work for me being just 10 years old.
During the mornings before I went to school I worked for only one and half hours each day before school. Monday through Friday I went to school and studied. My father says we should go to school to learn more things, so we won't have to work in the fields like him, or make my family work in the fields when I get married and have children. He says he did not get the opportunity of going to school. That's why he is living his life like this. He feels that even though he can not give his family all that they need, he always gives them his support, and the most important thing, he gives them his love.
So I began going to school full time. But sometimes I wasn't lucky enough, some days I had to work after school because my family wasn't finished working so I had to help them so they could finish early and go home. On weekends I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to work all day in the sun, so I did not get much. I never get the opportunity to wake up late like some other kids do during the weekends.
I do like the life I am living. I even like the hard work, sometimes. My father says we should learn how to work hard, because you often have to work hard even when you have an easy job.
I have been a migrant worker for 7 years . It has not been easy to move from school to school. In a way it's fun because you make new friends and see other new places, but is not easy living your best friends in Texas. I do enjoy been a migrant, but most of the time is a lot of bother. Now I am 15 years old going on to 16, years past so fast and very quickly when you go to different places in a year and meet other people.
I am a Tejano because I come from Texas were most of our family is. I come from a family of 2 sisters, and 7 brothers. It's hard when you have lots of people in your family. But it is worth it, because they help you in anything that you might need. So we are a united family. We might sometimes have our dislikes but we are still in one family. Even though some are getting married and only 2 more are left, it does not matter, because we are still one big family, since the day that our parents brought us to earth and to the United States.
I am sixteen years old. I was born in Mission, Texas. I have two sisters and one brother in my family. Ever, since I was a baby my parents have migrated to Pasco, Washington. My father has been bringing people to work in the asparagus as a crew leader.
I, as a migrant, help my dad work in the fields on weekends. I don't work as hard as other people work in the fields. I think working in the fields is very hard, because you need to work in the sun all day. When I grow up I want to become a teacher. I believe that being a teacher is not as hard as working in the fields.
When I work, I don't get to keep all the money I make in the fields. My parents get to keep most of the money I earn, so they can pay the bills they owe, or pay other things they need to pay. My parents give me some amount of money, so that I can buy clothes for the following year of school.
What I like most about being a migrant worker is that you get to travel to a lot of places you have never seen. Also, you get to meet a lot of people and make new friends. What I like least about being a migrant worker is to change form school to school in different places. Also when you attend another school you don't know what's going on in the classes and you might not pass that class, also working in the fields does help.
In my family both males and females are treated the same. My parents believe in treating everybody the same, that's why we all get along with each other. My father always tells me that working in the fields is very hard, and that he does not want to see me work in the fields when I get older, he always tells me to educate myself.
In conclusion, I believe my parents being migrant workers is something they are doing for us, because if it weren't for them we would not have what we have right now. I also believe I am happy right now in live, because they've showed me what's right and what's wrong in life.
I have been coming to the state of Washington ever since I was a newborn baby. I was born in Rio Grande City, Texas. I have two brothers and I am the only girl in the family. My parents had to come in order for them to start a new life. They wanted to raise enough money to build a house. I don't think I'll be coming over here anymore because my parents are really tired of having to migrate every year. They say they don't want this kind of life for us anymore.
I have always dreamed of becoming a lawyer but the way things are going it's going to be a little hard. However, there are some good things about being a migrant worker. For example, you get to meet a lot of new people and see different places.
The bad things about being a migrant is that you miss out on many things. For example, you have to leave your home town every year, your friends, and other very important people in your life. It feels that when you leave all the good things start to happen. Another reason is that you miss out on a lot of school. I loose some of my credits when I come to Washington.
Working in the fields in the worst part of being a migrant student. You have to go to work every day, work in the hot sun, then come to school for the rest of the day. You don't even get to keep all of the money you make. It all has to go to your parents. You also have to wake up at four in the morning to go to work. It's really bad because you usually come to work until twelve in the afternoon.
Living conditions are not always that good. Sometimes you live in very small houses and you have to all bunch up in one room. Sometimes you get to have really nice houses with plenty of space. I guess it's all about luck, I don't know why. I don't plan to be a migrant worker when I grow up. I don't want my children to grow up having to move back and forth. I want for them to get educated and be something in life. I want them to grow up never having to experience any hard work like getting up in the morning and working in the fields. I don't want my children to teach their children to work in fields. I don't want to give them the life I am going thru right now.
There are certain restrictions as working as a student migrant worker. You have to be sixteen years old to work in the fields. Some people really need the money and have to get fake birth certificate so they can start to work at an early age. There are some thirteen or fourteen year old kids that have to work. Some of them don't even go to school.
I don't go to work on weekends. I stay home with my mother and baby-sit two baby girls. My mother does not work on weekends because there is no work for her in the daycare she works at. She helps me baby-sit. I get paid thirty-five dollars for each baby I take care of. I do get to keep all the money I earn as a baby-sitter. It's kind of fun not having to work in the fields and having fun but, for other people it's very hard.
I really am not happy with my parents decision to become migrant workers because I have missed out on a lot of things. They always take me away from all the fun things that are happening in my hometown. I am really not happy at all. I really don't know why they even have to come over here. We can't even work so why come over here and do nothing. Many families leave their children with other relatives that stay back in Texas.
There is a lot of prejudice against migrant workers. Everywhere you go you experience prejudice. For example, if you go to a store or something, they wont ask you if need any help. But, when someone of their own race comes in they get help. Also the owners are always walking behind them making sure you don't steal things. You don't always experience this but most of the time. Another thing that really expresses prejudice is in the check points. When they see Mexicans they always stop to search tour cars. Also, when you tell them where you are from, they will immediately search your car. Where we come from all the people are always driving twenty thousand dollar trucks and live in really poor homes. All you have to do is tell them that you are from the lower part of Texas or Mexico--they will always search you.
Females are always treated equally. It does not matter if you are a girl or not, everyone is treated equally. When my mom goes to the store and buys something for me, she has to buy something for my other brothers. Sometimes when you are the only girl in the family, you are spoiled. I am the only girl in the family so I am really spoiled. Sometimes I buy something and I hide what my mom buys me so my brothers won't see them.
There are a lot of different customs for Mexicans. For example, there are is a coming out party called a Quinceanera. That means that a young lady has finally reached the age of fifteen. They usually have a big dance and they go to church and have a mass. It's really fun to go to and you have lots of fun with friends and family. Another thing Mexicans do is always have all kinds of parties for any little thing that happens. Mexicans party all weekend long and don't go home until the next day--then wait until it's night to go party again. I love to party with all my friends. I always go out with all my friends and have a really good time. I usually don't come home until about two in the morning and then sleep all day. My mother always gets mad at me because I am always with my friends and I don't spend too much time in the house.
Food and clothing are also some things that are really different with Mexicans. I think Mexican food is so good. I like it better than American food. Mexican food has a lot of spices and they all use a lot of chili peppers. The clothes are a lot different also because Mexicans don't really care what they wear.
In conclusion, being a migrant worker is very hard. You are always having to face very hard things. There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages about being a migrant worker.
Interview with Zek's Dad
How did you become a migrant worker?
Sometimes money is needed around the house, and extra money to have in the bag. Basically I did not think of goals, because I spent all my time working. I started working when I was 12 years old. I don't want to be a migrant worker all my life, cause my sons have to go to school, and I will become really old.
If you could live anywhere you wanted where would you live?
In Texas of course, where most all my family and friends live, so I could be more close to them all my life. When I become really old, the Social Security is going to take care of him and support him. All the money that he paid in when he was young, he is going to get when he becomes more old, so basically he won't work anymore.
What do you like and not like about being a migrant?
Being a migrant is nice and wonderful because you meet other new people, make new friends, and see other places around the world. If you meet wonderful people they sometimes even offer you a good job so you don't have too work all day in the sun. The worst part of been a migrant is that you have to work all day in the sun, and sometimes you get very sick of your back pain because so much bending over is needed, and as you get up you might do a wrong turn, and your bust it all your life. The worst thing is that you leave your family, and friends for a long time without seeing them, and sometimes you get bad news that someone dies from your family, and there's nothing you can do, because you're over the mountains and they are down the mountains. Sometimes some other worst things can happen.
Survey of Non-Migrant Students
We surveyed 53 students at Pasco High. Here is what they said about the questions we asked.
|Undecided (Don't know)
|Do you think children of Migrant Workers are well educated?
||2, depends on student
|Would you feel comfortable going to different schools in one year?
|Do you think migrant student workers are friendly?
|Do you like the migrants to come to your school?
|Do you have any friends that are migrant workers?