A Migrant Daughter’s Story


I am not sure how many of you spent your summers, but I spent mine crawling on my knees in 90 degree summer heat, pulling green onions out of the ground, removing the “dirty skin”, wrapping a rubber band around bundles of twelve because you get paid per bunch, so we worked as fast as we could to earn as much as we could during those 10 hour days.
As a daughter of migrant workers, I worked in the fields pulling green onions every summer from age 13 – 20. I can assure you that migrant workers are still working so they can feed and clothe their families.  They do back breaking labor at bare minimum wages all over the South and America. Migrant workers provide an indispensable service not just to the agriculture industry but to American consumers. They harvest the fruits and vegetables that we’ve eaten this week. Most who know the agricultural industry believe the effects of copycat Arizona immigration laws will double if not triple current prices and possibly limit the availability and diverse options that we now enjoy. America is a nation of immigrants and those who labor as migrant workers today whether they are African American or Latino work hard, pay taxes and dream of full access to the American dream of fair wages and just treatment.
A few years ago Democratic and Republican leadership in Washington talked about a bipartisan bill that would recognize the contributions of immigrants to America. The proposed legislation was killed in the midst of the Presidential elections. The problems didn’t disappear, but the reasoned debate did. Now instead of criminalizing the workers and their families, we need Republican leaders to work together with President Obama to develop and adopt judicious federal immigration laws that recognize the value of immigrants to the history of this country; a history that includes the diverse voices of immigrants who echo the true meaning of democracy; a history that honors immigrants who have defended this country in times of war; a history where immigrants have contributed to the bounty of America, while protecting our borders and strengthening our homeland security. How can a country built on the backs of so many, now only be home to some?
Toni Smalls is in charge of government relations for Eco-Logic Services, Inc. An independent firm based in Atlanta that has earned a reputation in the Southeast for providing superior strategic planning and consulting services to government entities, nonprofit organizations and construction firms. Eco-Logic is a strategic planning and development company that provides professional services around green building initiatives; working with government to help leaders understand the value sustainability brings to projects. www.ecologicservicesinc.com and around green building initiatives.  


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