Mexican Farmworkers Crammed Into Border Tunnel Despite Contagion Risk
MEXICALI, Mexico — Every night, hundreds of farm workers in Mexico crowd for hours in a cramped tunnel to a border station to reach day jobs in Imperial Valley, California, with no social distancing enforced despite coronavirus cases saturating hospitals in the region.
By 2 a.m. on Tuesday, tense men and women with cloth face masks and bandanas jostled for position in a line hundreds deep through the underpass leading from the city of Mexicali to the U.S. port of entry. Vendors sold tamales. A mariachi player lightened the mood. But the only hand-washing station was broken.
The daily back and forth flow to work in the United States and sleep back in Mexico, essential to both the $2 billion Imperial Valley fruit and vegetable harvests and to thousands of families in Mexico, is a testament to the deeply entwined economies on either side of the border.
But the lack of safety measures and the late night crowds stand in contrast to a curfew imposed in Mexicali this week to try to stem the city's fast rising contagion, as well as to six-feet (1.83 meter) distancing measures in the border station itself.
- Eli Kantor
- Beverly Hills, California, United States
- Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; email@example.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com