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Material 9

A lot of farm workers are necessary for some crops:

  • In Washington state, 52,000 are needed to pick apples in September and October.
  • In Florida, about 60,000 are used in citrus orchards and 30,000 are needed for winter vegetables. Many migrants work both crops.
  • In California, 55,000 harvest table grapes and 20,000 pick strawberries.
  • In Michigan, 50,000 harvest apples, cherries, sugar beets and other crops.


  • Find the above states on a map. Why do these crops grow there so well?
  • What kind of fruit do we get from these states?
  • Are there regions where seasonal fruit pickers are needed as well? Try and find out where they are from and how much they earn. Compare.

Migrant farmworker profile

  • 46% of all migrants live below the poverty line.
  • 77% of illegal immigrants live below the poverty line.
  • Average annual earnings $5,000 for 29 weeks' work.
  • 85% are foreign-born.
  • Mean 6.5 years of school
  • Mean 1993 hourly earnings was $5.40.
  • Mean 2.7 years with current employer
  • Meanage: 30

A tortilla is a piece of flat Latin American cornbread. Many journalists have started calling the border between the United States and Mexico "tortilla-curtain".

  • Das Bild zeigt einen Mexikaner am Grenzzaun.

Taxes paid by undocumented* immigrants, 1992

Bundesstaat Taxes paid (in millions) Population undocumented
Arizona $ 029 1.5 %
California $ 732 4.6 %
Florida $ 277 2.3 %
Illinois $ 094 1.5 %
New Jersey $ 130 1.5 %
New York $ 422 2.4 %
Texas $ 202 2.0 %

86% of the undocumented (*illegal) immigrant population in the USA live in seven states.

Das Bild zeigt zwei liegengebliebene Schuhe am Straßenrand.

Something frequently seen near the border between Mexico and the United States - between Tijuana and St. Diego - are shoes that were lost by Mexican refugees.

Also, shoes can in fact give away the refugees since they have to cross a canal in order to get on the other side of the border. As the officers of the border patrol tell us, "people who walk around in wet shoes on the US side of the border will certainly get asked for some identification."