Tuesday, July 25, 2006

RGV (Migrant) Life

Many Rio Grande Valley residents live in South Texas only part-time. During the summer, they leave the state to follow the jobs.

For those of us who don't know what it's like to travel north for work each year, Mission blogger Shaine Mata offers a firsthand glimpse of the migrant experience on his blog RGV Life.

He and his family agonize over whether to tough things out in the RGV or take a chance and leave:
My wife, whose opinion matters to me, has effectively given me her blessing. There are other people who matter to me who are opposed to my leaving the RGV. The reason why I believe that my future lies outside of the RGV is that most of the people with whom I grew up have left and made something of themselves. ... The point is, nobody who wasn't already connected has "made it" here. They made it somewhere else and came back.
Shaine describes the fiddly little details that you have to take care of when you travel more than a thousand miles to the other side of the country:
Other things we did included paying our Post Net mailbox through November, depositing the money from the sale of my wife's van, cancel our car insurance, and other little errands for family. My son and I got haircuts. ... Tomorrow, we need to do laundry. ... We also need to pay CPL and T-Mobile.
He shares details of the journey, including a quick post about how they "got pulled over by border patrol north of san manuel because they saw our luggage in plastic bags." There's also photos from a trip to the Mall of America.

Once Shaine arrives in Wisconsin, he begins working for Head Start, leaves that for a better-paying job at a canning facility, and then rejoins Head Start, which really needs bilingual teachers.

Best of all, Shaine lets us know what migrant life is like from an insider's perspective. He describes work at the green bean processing plant:
At first, work was sporadic. We'd work a day or two and have a day or two off. It appears that we are now entering full production. ... The thinking amongst the migrant workers here is "nomas son tres meses". Three months of 80 hour work weeks. Some people are earning minimum wage, which is $6.50/hr in Wisconsin; others are earning more. The work is easy and boring. If you can stand the monotony, there is plenty of overtime available.
In the same post, Shaine tells readers about his coworkers, legal and illegal, from Texas and Mexico:
There are hard workers; and there are some who make you wonder why they came at all, if they don't want to work. There are even families that come to work here together and then go back to Texas or Mexico to live off their earnings. Even at minimum wage, they can earn about $2,400/month each. Those who are returning workers or have jobs higher on the pay scale can take home much more than that.
RGV Life has much more about the migrant experience than I can do justice to in one post, so go check it out for yourselves. Shaine, thanks for giving readers like me an idea of what some families go through, and the best of luck in your endeavors.


Blogger Shaine Mata said...

thanks for the plug.

7:55 PM  

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