Thursday, November 01, 2007


The dreadful fires in California that led to death and destruction were well reported in the British press, but what was hardly covered was the plight of the immigrant workers. "Out of the burning brush, from behind canyon rocks, several immigrants bolted toward a group of fire-fighters, chased not by the border police but by the onrush of flames from one of the biggest wildfires this week. ... Immigrants from south of the border, many illegal, provide the backbone of menial labour in San Diego, picking fruit, cleaning hotel rooms, sweeping walks and mowing lawns. The wildfires, one of the biggest disasters to strike the county, exposed their often-invisible existence in ways that were sometimes deadly. The four bodies were found in a burned area in south-eastern San Diego County, a region known for intense illegal immigration. ...Terri Trujillo, who helps the immigrants, checked on those in the canyons, urging them to leave, too, when she left her house in Rancho Peñasquitos ahead of the fires. Ms. Trujillo and others who help the immigrants said they saw several out in the fields as the fires approached and ash fell on them. She said many were afraid to lose their jobs.“There were Mercedeses and Jaguars pulling out, people evacuating, and the migrants were still working,” said Enrique Morones, who takes food and blankets to the immigrants’ camps. “It’s outrageous.” Some of the illegal workers who sought help from the authorities were arrested and deported." (New York Times, 27 October)
What a comment on capitalism, some workers live in such poverty and insecurity they give up their lives in an attempt to keep a menial weekly wage. RD

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