How many Mexican American children are used as Child Labor in the United States?

It is not unusual to see Mexican American children working alongside their parents in the California fields.

Nearly one of every five crop pickers in the United States is under eighteen.

The following passage comes from S. Beth Atkin’s Voices from the Fields: Children of Migrant Farm-workers Tell Their Stories. It was written by nine-year-old Jose Luis Rios, who lived with his parents, nine brothers and sisters, and other relatives in a small house in Las Lomas, California.

My parents work in la fresa (the strawberries) and la mora (the raspberries), and my mom sometimes packs mushrooms. During the week, they leave in the morning around six o’clock. I go and help them, mostly on weekends.

I help pick the strawberries and put them in boxes. Last year my father took me to the fields a lot during the week, too, instead of bringing me
to school.

The longest day in the field was when we picked a lot of strawberries. I felt bad and it was getting dark. I said to my parents, “Let’s go home,” and finally they said, “We’re going.” It was hard to work so long.

My body gets tired, and when it is muddy, my uncle has to park the truck far away, and I get tired and cold when I have to walk back to the truck.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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