There are many people who are involved in the migrant farm industry. Migrant farm workers are agricultural workers who move often within a yearly period, for employment purposes. The families of migrant farm workers move to follow the planting. Most of these families are second and third generation migrant families. These families are usually very poor. The workers and their families are seen in literature as an "invisible" group who are the most disadvantaged and at-risk population in the United States. They are not seen, not heard, and not helped.Children of migrant farm workers are an extremely vulnerable population of children. These children face a transient lifestyle. This lifestyle often begins at birth, and interferes with any hope for a stable education, steady friends, and familiarity with a community. Seventy percent of migrant farm worker's children do not speak English. Nearly every migrant child lives in poverty. Most migrant farm workers are American citizens, either born in America or have gotten legal residency. They did have trouble becoming American legally because of where they came from before.
The average income is 7500 dollars per year and they are expected to pay taxes just like any other American citizen. The Fair Labour Standards Act of 1975 requires that children of the age of 12 or older can work in the fields. But this is not always followed. It has be seen that children as young as 10 are working in the fields. It is estimated that twenty five to forty percent of the farm work is done by young children.
Migrant housing is a critical issue. Migrant workers often cannot afford to build suitable housing. Thirty percent of the migrant population have comfortable houses. They are forced to live in dirty, overcrowded places. Or even worse, in tents, cars or even open fields. There are few government laws to require suitable houses, therefore, they get little help in this area. Resources in the area of housing are bare. Some states have began to build houses and provide loans for low income residents but this does not seem to meet the needs of the migrant farm workers because they are constantly being uprooted and moved because of work situations.
There are numbers of injuries and deaths reported every year due to various accidents, such as, drowning in ditches, poor mechanical equipment, exposure to agricultural chemicals, being out in the sun and other heat related sicknesses. Children are exposed to the exact same conditions as adults, but are more vulnerable, to become sick.
The life expectancy of migrant farm workers is 49 years compared to the national average of 73 to 75 years. There are many diseases among the migrant people like, malnutrition, maternal malnutrition, dental problems, parasitic infections, hypertension, diabetes, respiratory infections, and sexually transmitted diseases-including HIV/AIDS. There are also many mental health problems too, including, depression, anxiety, and abuse. Many of these health issues are related to not having sanitary living and working conditions. They cannot get help in this area because they cannot afford life insurance.
Due to the numerous moves that migrant farm workers make, fifty percent of their children are behind one grade level of skills. Many of these children need three years to advance one grade level. Achieving an education is a challenge for migrant farm workers.
The most commonly identified reasons for children of migrant farm workers dropping out of school include the need to work, the lack of relationships with peers at school, the need to move, getting pregnant, and or getting married.
The education for migrant farm workers children has received the same three hundred million dollars from the federal government for the past fifteen years. The number of children from migrant farm workers has increased, but the financing for their education has stayed the same.
The families of migrant farm workers have to be independent. Families may get separated when the father leaves to find work. This leaves the mother in charge of the children. The mother usually has no money, and no way to provide for the children.
Family life for migrant farm workers is extremely stressful because they face survival situations every single day.
Children learn early that they are needed and they often help with the family farm work at the consequence of their education. The maltreatment of children was significantly higher among migrant farm workers families. Migrant farm workers are found to abuse their children in some states. It is more serious in some states than in others.
Migrant farm workers experience life and death situations every single day. The farm workers themselves do everything they can to support and keep a decent family. They are in great danger. But, their children are in even more danger of becoming hurt. They are innocent people that deserve a chance at the best life that they can get. They have tried to be seen, noticed and understood in the past. They have reached out for help but were rejected. Their cries for help are unheard by the rest of the people of the world. They need to be helped. They need to be able to have a chance, a dream, a life.
http://ericfacility.nrt/database/ERIC_Digests/ed471487.html on October 1, 2003
http://www.naspcenter.org/teachers/migrantchildren.html on October 1, 2003
http://www.savannahnow.com/stories/051798/LOConionbleakout.html on October 1, 2003