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Our disgraceful treatment of the migrant workers who pick our food

Our disgraceful treatment of the migrant workers who pick our food
Heraclio Hernandez of Oaxaca, Mexico, a local farmworker, picks strawberries for Mar Vista Berry, family owned and operated by Greg France, near Guadalupe, Calif. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Plaudits to The Times for two deeply moving reports on undocumented immigrant workers in our state.

Last week, one article focused on a 37-year-old Mexican woman who spent nearly two decades living and working in the Los Angeles area. Yet she suffered continual anxiety — and invidious wage discrimination — due to her undocumented status, leading her to "self-deport" to Tijuana.

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More recently, you reported on the Central Coast's large immigrant field-worker population. Local agricultural and business interests welcome these laborers, provided they show up for work but live out of sight, removed from polite society.

This piece made me recall driving by an expansive strawberry farm recently. There I saw scores of workers in constant motion, doing the tiring, repetitive stoop labor that virtually no U.S. citizen will do.

The scene reminded me of depictions of 19th century slaves toiling in southern cotton fields. One difference: The chains of bondage aren't visible today.

David Schaffer, Santa Monica

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To the editor: This article on migrant farm workers having difficulty finding decent housing reminds me of Malibu declaring itself a so-called sanctuary city earlier this year. Some residents said the people who clean their houses and watch their children deserved to be treated well.

Does this concern make them humanitarians? It doesn't matter, because the expensive housing in Malibu means illegal immigrants cannot afford to live there.

Yachiyo Haney, Canoga Park

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