Immigration reform advocates and business owners alike are pressuring Congress to pass legislation to legalize the nation’s 11.7 million undocumented immigrants.
America’s broken immigration system creates challenges for workers, as well as their employers and communities. Migrant laborers without legal status face hurdles in agitating against dangerous working conditions, unfair business practices, or unreasonably low wages for fear employers might report them to the authorities. Businesses say they need immigrant workers in a variety of low-skilled jobs because Americans are unwilling to perform such difficult tasks especially at the low wages that keep their businesses profitable. Without a reliable legal source of workers, they fear business will dry up.
Photographer Matt Black chronicles the lives of workers in the fields of California, the nation’s top food producing state where the Central Valley pumps out almonds, grapes, broccoli, chard – to name a few. Vineyards line the state, as well as orchards, dairy farms, and floriculture Immigrant rights advocates and labor unions are lobbying for reform to try to bring these workers out of the shadows where they’ll be able to find work without the threat of deportation. But many Republicans in Congress remain uncomfortable with legitimizing millions of unauthorized immigrants, leaving the likelihood of passing meaningful legislation an uphill climb.