By Edwin Funes
The film “The Harvest” brought light to an issue concerning migrant children workers in the United States on Nov. 15 in the foyer. The Chicano Studies department brought Julia Perez, the associate director of the film “The Harvest” to speak about working migrant children.
The children vary from ages five to 17 and work 12-hour days, picking crops for the public’s consumption. Perez created the documentary in order to change the law for migrant children workers, so they could have equal rights and to be able to get a higher education.
More than 400,000 migrant children work in the U.S. picking crops. The film highlighted the legal age in the U.S., which is 12 years old for work in agriculture.
These children work the fields, picking crops and are being paid for each crop they pick. The children are forced to move with their families to different parts of the U.S. to pick crops, which make it difficult to attend school since the crops are harvested during the school year.
The film followed three children, who are faced with going to the fields to pick crops. Zulema Lopez, 12, has picked crops ever since she could remember.
Lopez’s job is to pull onions from the floor and with large scissors, cut the roots. She sometimes suffers injuries, because at times the scissors slip and cut her. With an income of $64 a week, she is able to help her mother and grandmother who wish they could give her a better life.
Lopez says, “most children that are migrants don’t make it to high school.” Although she believes this, she still wants to go to school, to be able to get a better life for herself.
Victor Huapilla, 16, takes care of his two younger sisters and takes them to school. “At school my sisters don’t suffer. There is food and an air conditioner there. In the field, we don’t have an air conditioner,” Huapilla said.
He works in the fields to help his parents even though they don’t ask him to. He helps his parents work by picking lettuce, corn and tomatoes, which they get paid for at the rate of a dollar a bucket of 25 pounds. That is 1500 pounds of tomatoes a day that Huapilla picks to help his family out.
He works beside older workers with a strong odor of tomato. The tomato smell is so strong, he uses Clorox to eliminate the odor.
Perla Sanchez, 16, stressed about health care for her family. Her brother died because he was sick and her family was unable to pay his medical fees for treatment.
She fears that her parents will not be covered with healthcare and get sick, because they are always working in the fields. Sanchez moves with her family through the U.S., having to find a place to stay while working the fields.