tv Inside Man CNN December 29, 2013 8:00pm-9:01pm PST
it's going to be fixed by us. i think that's a good message for everyone. mm. delicious orange juice. we all drink it, but do you ever think about where it comes from? these people do. they're undocumented immigrants. and theb they know where it comes from because they pick the oranges that are in it. they also pick the tomatoes in your salad, mow your lawns, clean your hotel rooms, hang your dry wall, even help raise your children. right now there's an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in this country today. >> it was possible for 11 million illegals to come here. why is it impossible for them to leave? >> people who oppose immigration reform say these workers are just feeding off the system. >> the vast majority of illegal aliens are consuming welfare programs. >> we have illegals coming here
taking jobs. we have people at home that need these jobs. >> but are businesses ready to get rid of such cheap, dependable labor? how many jobs are these immigrants actually taking away from americans? it may be a policy debate in washington, but in the orange groves of polk county, florida, it's a life of fear, back breaking labor, and the looming threat of deportation. this is the hardest i've ever worked for 93 cents. ♪ florida. palm trees, retirees, manatees, and one of the largest communities of foreign workers in the country. on any given day about 4,000 farm workers are tending to crops and fields.
in fact, florida produces about 43% of all citrus grown in the u.s. and polk county produces more of it than any other in the state. with 30 million boxes harvested per year. chances are good if you had an orange today it came from polk county and a migrant worker picked it. the thing for me i don't understand is everyone says we got high unemployment rates but there are jobs that american citizens won't apply for. people could pick oranges, strawberries, pick whatever, but they don't. today hopefully i'll gain some insight into exactly why that is. >> good morning. welcome. how may i help you? >> i wanted to speak to someone about getting a job in agricultural. they help place workers in all kinds of industries. including the agricultural industry. it's the perfect place for me to find a job.
people who pick produce like oranges can come here and basically find out what jobs are available within the community. >> morgan spurlock. >> yeah? what i want to find out is how hard is it to get one of these jobs? are there not enough americans to fill these jobs? >> so you're looking at citrus harvesting? >> correct. and why aren't there? if that's the case. why do we need people coming from mexico to do these jobs? if there are so many people unemployed in the states. so how many jobs in citrus per calendar year do you have? >> last year we had about 7,000 different job openings. >> wow. and these jobs are open to americans? >> absolutely. >> how many came in and applied for those? >> actually about 1,500 came in and applied for those. out of those 336 were hired. >> how many of them stay? >> technically 5% overall are the ones that actually stay. >> 5% out of 336. i mean, that's like 15, 16 people. 16 people for 7,000 jobs.
and so then who takes those jobs? >> they usually come from outside the united states then. >> right. i just can't believe only 5%. that's incredible. >> this may be part of the reason why. the worker will carry an 18 to 20 foot ladder to the particular area of the grove to be harvested. fully loaded picking stack weighs between 50 to 100 pounds. depending on the fruit. >> what is the pay? >> 95 cent per 90 pound field box. >> per giant sack would be 95 cents. wow. >> all right. so are you still interested? >> yes. >> you are? okay. >> yeah, i am. >> we're going to actually refer you. >> the thing i want to do now is see what this job is really like. go out, work in a field, and just see how difficult and strenuous it is and try to get a better sense of why people aren't taking these jobs.
of course, some people are taking these jobs. immigrant laborers. there are mainly two ways farm citrus groves find workers. a way to get workers in the field without granting them permanent residency. it's not a path to citizenship nor popular with the agricultural industry. so that leaves undocumented immigrants. after surviving a dangerous border crossing, they take whatever jobs they can find and generally live life in the shadows to avoid being deported. most see the risk as the only way to make a better life for themselves and their families. >> make a left up here. >> carlos is a 20-year-old undocumented immigrant. born in mexico, he was brought to america as a 6-month-old infant with his migrant family. since he was nine years old, he
was working with his father pasqal. picking tobacco, oranges, and onions. he lives under constant threat of prosecution and deportation. he and pasqual have decided to teach me how to pick oranges before i start my first day of work tomorrow. >> have you ever picked oranges or done field work? >> i picked things off trees. but you pick one. yourp -- you know, you pick it and eat it. i've never had to pick 2500 to fill a tub. i think i'm going to be sore by the end of the day tomorrow. >> my dad, he's 49. that's nothing. i know people that are 70 picking oranges. because it's a necessity. you have to. hopefully if i can better myself, i can help my family. what he did for me, i'll do it for him. >> what do you want to do with your life? >> i really want to go to law school. >> you want to be a lawyer? >> yes. >> that'd be amazing.
even with his good attitude and grades, it's going to be tough for carlos to become a lawyer. as and undocumented immigrant, carlos is prohibited from practicing law in the united states. where do i pull in? >> this is it. >> he can't even get a job except as an illegal hire. so he still works in the fields just like his father. well, that is a very heavy ladder. very top heavy ladder. you know what i think is easier for me? i think i want to carry this ladder like this. so where are we going? carlos' father has been working in american fields for more than 20 years. and to celebrate, last year he had open heart surgery. but he didn't have much time to recuperate. he was back working in the fields six weeks later. as an undocumented immigrant, he can't file for disability payments. so if he doesn't pick, he doesn't get paid. with a family to feed and a hospital bill to pay, not working is not an option. so where should you start when
picking the tree? >> climb the ladder. >> you pull them right off? >> you've got to twist it. >> pasqual, have you fallen off a ladder? >> no. thank god, no. use your leg. >> so that's one sack so how many more sacks to fill it up? >> ten and a half. >> ten and a half. wow. >> how long do you think it will take you to do one of these barrels? >> one hour. if you don't do it in one hour, do something else. >> do another job. >> yes. put it right there. >> put it right here? >> yeah. always put it next to a big limb. that it's going to hold your weight.
>> how do you get the ones that are up in the top in the middle of the tree? >> climb in the middle of the tree. >> you've got to climb up the tree? >> yeah. >> oh, man. there's a bunch in here. i can't believe how much i'm learning. for example, did you know orange trees have thorns? these thorns are the ones you want to stay away from. it took me 15 minutes to fill up this one bag. oh, yeah. stop trying to make me feel bad. i should fill this back in five minutes. >> yeah. >> that's a lot of work.
[ speaking spanish ] >> he said you were crazy. so he said $15 he'd do it. so give me advice tomorrow since i'm going to be working all day tomorrow. >> you're going to be really tired and not even be able to sit on the toilet. (vo) you are a business pro. seeker of the sublime. you can separate runway ridiculousness... from fashion that flies off the shelves. and you...rent from national.
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i'm on my way to meet the crew i'll be picking with tomorrow. after my lesson with carlos and pasqual, i'm feeling pretty confident. luckily for me i'm a half a foot taller. i've got a bit of reach. i might be able to get the hard to reach oranges. the workers i'm working with are all guest workers. they're all here legally and temporarily. h 2-av require employers to supply housing for their workers. so they pay nothing while they're here. send most of their money straight back to mexico. when the picking season is over, they'll return to their homes, families, lives all in the hopes of getting another a -- h-2 visa next season. what's the quickest way of becoming american?
well, sort of being born here, it's just like most things in life. it comes down to whom you know. if you want all access to the exclusive club usa, your best bet is to be related to someone who's already there legally. like a parent, child, or spouse. they can sponsor you and that at least gets your name on the list. of course, if you don't have family here, there's still some ways to get your foot in the door. like the eb-5 investor visa. this is easy to get as long as you have money sitting around to informs. it rules out your tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free. if all else fails, you can sponsor yourself. you've got to be special to get in the club that way. you've got to be positively extraordinary. people with certain skill sets
or knowledge, entrepreneurs can get an alien of extraordinary ability visa. the only problem is extraordinary is pretty subjective. meaning those visas have gone to professional bikini models, squash players, magicians, even playboy play mates. none of that helps carlos. since he was brought here illegally, he isn't eligible for any of these. seems the u.s. government doesn't think fruit pickers are extraordinary. even though they're invaluable. >> home, sweet home. >> home, sweet home. >> i start work tomorrow. so tonight i'm moving in with the pickers and staying in the crew housing. how many guys stay in this house? >> ten. so you're eleven. >> i'm morgan. >> this is the dining room or dining area. >> eric is the crew leader and my new boss. just 23 years old. he's an american citizen whose
parents were pickers. >> are you guys in charge of picking it too. >> yeah. >> as the foreman with tough quotas to reach, it's important for him to get the best out of every person in the field including me. pillow, nice. >> standard issue. >> standard issue. that's a good looking brand new bag. see that? that's all american. red, white, and blue. what's the secret to going faster? >> just move your hands. >> don't even pay attention. like mr. miyagi style. just be the orange. if you spend six months living and working with ten guys, you want to make sure everybody gets along. so all responsibilities for cooking and cleaning are shared. so who did the most tubs today? >> nate did. the guy you're helping. he did ten. >> ten. >> uh-huh. >> that's a good day. >> that's a great day. >> yeah. >> so why did you decide to do the h 2-a visas rather than come in legally?
how does the money compare here to the money you could make in mexico? say this week you made $500. how long would it take you to make that in mexico? a month. so you could make a month's wages in one week. wow. you have families. you have a wife in mexico? and kids? how many? so you'll be here when the baby is born. is your wife mad? how many tubs do you think i'll be able to do tomorrow? one? come on, just one? really? okay.
five. okay. we'll see who's right. >> okay. >> are you nervous? >> no. >> you're not nervous. >> should i be? >> i'm just saying. >> i should be nervous, is what you're saying? >> a little bit. >> work starts before dawn. while most people are still sleeping, we're heading out to the fields for the day. so it's 5:45 in the morning. i got up almost an hour ago, helped make lunch for all the guys going out today and for myself. morning. and we'll be on the field and picking by 7:00. most workers are young men with children and wives at home.
yet they leave those families for half a year to work in these fields. >> here's your ladder. >> great. which way do i head? where everybody else is going? >> just head straight down. i'll meet you down there. >> okay. carrying my ladder. got carried about a quarter mile, half mile to where i'm picking today. this is my line of trees right here. so i'll work down until i meet whoever is on the other end somewhere in the middle. it's around $9.50 per tub. my goal today is to get at least six. if i was going to really make a living wage, i'd need to have that first tub filled in an hour. i'm right here, i can do these.
pasqual recommended picking from the top down. but i'm trying my own technique and start from the bottom. i feel from the ground i can get a lot without getting on the ladder. >> you can get two at a time. the faster you move, the more you pick. >> i'm going to kill it today. >> i've never had a white person on my crew. i've heard stories where americans don't cut it at this job. they expect an easy job, and it's really not that easy. it's heavy work. >> see how that didn't even cover the bottom of that? at least the oranges we were picking yesterday were about that big. you know? these, look at this. it's like a nectarine. need to get the ladders now. i finally understand pasqual's strategy.
because the last thing i feel like doing now is climbing up the damn ladder. i have a feeling that is going to fall. let's see. this ladder -- this sucks. is that going to stay? whoa. i think one more bag, i'll be done with my first bin. which isn't bad. >> almost full, morgan? >> how many more bags does that need? >> looks like it needs two more. >> two more? >> i'll help you out with one though. >> something tells me eric doesn't have much faith in me. but if he's going to help me fill the tub, i'll take the pity. how many tubs have guys gotten done so far? >> each guy had around roughly two or three. >> in the time it's taken me to do one? >> yeah. >> right. >> you'll be all right. >> eric just wanted to rub it in how slow i am. is that one? >> yeah. >> nice. two hours for my first tub.
so far i've been picking oranges for three hours. i can honestly tell you it does not get easier as the day goes on. for so-called unskilled labor, it's a lot tougher than it looks. that's two down. lots more to go. i'm not just the worst picker in the field today, i'm also the only american citizen. every single worker here today is an immigrant here on h 2-5 visa. but h2-a isn't popular with most employers. only 4% of the businesses who can use it do so. river front packing is the largest grapefruit distributor in florida, and they don't participate in the program. >> we have an adequate local workforce that we have not been forced into or pushed into participating with the h 2-a program. >> like many businesses, they
find the regulations that comes with it to be expensive and burdensome. >> the housing is a cost. the transportation to get them to and from. and sometimes they don't stay. i think it was a noble effort, but we need to recognize it's a much broader issue. we don't really know the level of illegal immigrants working here. do we have everybody here properly documented and do we meet the letter of the law? absolutely. but as i was told once when i asked this question at a seminar, well, what if i see a document that i'm not sure is legal? the question i got was are you an immigration officer? if you question that, you could be subject to discrimination charges. i think if all of the undocumented workers were all to be deported, the people that think food comes from the grocery store would be in for a rude awakening. >> and in 2011, alabama did an effort to do just that.
crack down on all the immigrants in the workforce. they did it with new laws like making it a crime to transport those in the country illegally. as well as the e-verify system to check a status against the federal data base. >> i believe now we have the strongest immigration bill in the country. >> undocumented workers were spooked by the stringent laws and left for other states that hadn't passed such harsh anti-immigration policies. >> i told many people this is probably the largest economic development job creation bill that the state of alabama has ever passed. >> sure, if by economic development he means states and businesses losing billions of dollars in income and tax revenue. with no undocumented immigrants working, crops literally rotted in the fields. after half a day, i can tell you first hand why nobody came to replace the immigrant workers. the work is excruciating. i've been here since 7:00, and
i've still only finished two bins. oh [ bleep ]. look at that. they're falling out of my bag. yes. absolutely. it's lunchtime. [ speaking spanish ] what was the quota today you have to hit? >> i have to hit three trailers. and that's, like, eight tubs per person. >> i don't think i'm going to hit eight tubs. >> morgan's pace compared to everyone else on a scale of one to ten, he would be a two. which is as many tubs he's filled all day. >> have any of the guys out here worked with before? and how long did they last?
so i'm already doing as good as that guy. >> he's coming to meet you. he'll pass you. >> i'm going to get four today at least. at least quatro. another half hour of hard work and i've only gotten halfway through my third bin. before i can even celebrate -- >> you almost done, morgan? >> -- eric the foreman is back pushing me to get down. the third one is half done. how much longer we have left? >> another hour and a half. >> okay. so tired i'm missing my own bag. i don't feel it in my leg, but
right in my lower back and my forearms from this repetitive motion. one of the workers asked me what do you think it would take for an american to come out here and do this job? i think it would take like $30 an hour. guaranteed. like, not even based on the buckets they get. and then when you go to the grocery store, your orange juice would cost $12. because after being here, i tell you what, i don't think most of you would do this job. that's the fact. it sounds like it's time to go. so i wouldn't get paid for this one today. because it's not full. oh, man. so now if you look what i made today, i only finished three bins. $28.50. $2.85 an hour over ten hours.
>> well, morgan, time to go. >> that's like 3 2/3. >> so was it easy? >> absolutely not. it was even harder than i thought it would be. >> you exceeded my expectations. i figured you would have quit. >> thanks for having so much faith. >> you pulled through. you pulled through. >> let's go home. >> let's go. >> i couldn't even imagine, like, having to do this every day six days a week for your whole life. >> how was it? >> very hard. >> how many? >> 3 2/3. >> not too bad. for your first day. >> but not too good. not too good.
after an incredibly long day picking oranges, i can't wait to go to bed. but it's friday and that's payday. so the bus makes a last stop at plaza mexico. plaza mexico is a one-stop shop for h2-a workers. it's a shopping center, restaurant, and bank all rolled into one. man, this place is busy. how many guys come in here and cash their checks? >> at least 600 or more. about 200 are from our company. >> okay. they wire money home as well? >> yeah. over there. >> how much do most guys send home? >> you'd have to leave like $50 for groceries and $20 for, like, laundry. >> guys are only keeping back 60, 70 bucks. >> yeah. >> it's like a casino in here. so much money changing hands. when we do head back to the
camp, i discover a little keepsake from my day? i hit my leg on the bus and thought why did that hurt so much. i pulled up my pants, i had a thorn stuck in the side of my leg. see if we can't take that out now. ow. ow. look at that. a little souvenir to remind me of my long day of back-breaking labor. i feel like what i got to experience, you know, was something most people will never get to. and i think it's eye opening because it does give you tremendous more respect for these guys and what they do. i'll be thinking about them every time i have a glass of orange juice for the rest of my life. >> i'm going to miss you. and your three tubs. >> thank you very everything. >> you're welcome. ♪ ♪ maybe i'm wrong ♪
carlos and pasqual, the men who taught me how to pick oranges, have invited me home to meet the rest of the family. how are you? >> this is my mother. >> a lot of people think undocumented immigrants are somehow abusing our social system. but in reality, they're not even in the system. >> this is my home. >> they aren't eligible for benefits even if they live well below the poverty line. >> this is our kitchen. sometimes when it rains, it leaks. but we still keep warm. >> hi, how are you? >> and this is my room. like i said, it's not the best of room. but here's where i've been able to get straight a's in this deck. i'm thankful for that. >> what do you think over the course of the year the total salary for both of you to support your family for a year? together, like with her working in the egg farm and him working
in the migrant worker, it's like $25,000. >> and that's to support a family of one, two, three, four, five and plus your sister. so to support a family of six. >> yeah. you see where we're at. >> do you guys pay taxes? >> you still got to pay taxes. >> does your employer take it out or do you pay it? they take them out of the check. >> yeah. >> so you pay taxes to the state of florida. so what do you get in return for paying those taxes? [ speaking spanish ] >> do you still believe in the american dream?
>> we can become something else other than just being a farmer. we can be lawyers. we can be doctors. we can accomplish anything we set our mind to. >> would you be happy if he became a lawyer? pasqual's family wants to live the american dream and they're working hard to achieve their goals. no matter the obstacles. and believe me, there's a whole lot of obstacles. if you're an undocumented immigrant, you can't get a social security card. without one of those, you can't get medicare, welfare, social
security, or unemployment benefits. you can't apply for most jobs and you can't get most credit cards. you can't even get a fishing license. if not eligible for financial aid for college, or an employment based health program. you are eligible for the draft. and to pay taxes. the one thing that's easy for an undocumented worker to get is a bill from the irs. in fact, in most states you can't even get a driver's license. which means every time you're behind the wheel, you risk losing everything. you've never been pulled over before? >> thankfully, no. >> if any carlos or his family members are pulled over for even a minor infraction, they could be jailed for 48 hours until an immigration enforcement officer comes to interrogate them. they could be subject to any number of punishments from getting a ticket to being deported and banned from returning to the u.s. for an entire decade. pasqual do you worry when he drives the car? right. because he could get pulled over one time and that could be it. >> yeah. >> for carlos' family, immigration reform isn't a political issue.
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in a marge organized by forward with your promise, a civil rights group. >> make sure that obama keeps his promises. >> when obama campaigned for the presidency in 2008, he promised an overhaul of immigration in the united states. and he did just that. president obama deported nearly as many undocumented immigrants, 1.5 million in his first term, than george w. bush did in both his terms combined. >> what we're trying to do is not just raise awareness about the broken immigration, but to say stop with the deportations until you fix the problem. >> now that obama's been re-elected, he's making another promise. that a comprehensive immigration reform will be in place by the end of the first year of his second term. but not everyone believes that will happen. what's holding up these things getting pushed through? >> they just don't want this crowd in the ascendant si mix. because they're brown. my personal opinion. >> no brown people in power.
>> you know, it's the demographic is changing. and if this crowd gets legalized, it's a young community with children. they're voters. >> just how important is the latino vote? as the fastest growing minority group in the u.s., latinos make up 16% of the population. if you want to be president of the united states, you need their support. and savvy politicians are already going after it. >> welcome to the white house. [ speaking spanish ] >> in 2008, 67% of the latino vote went to barack obama. and in 2012 they voted to re-elect him with 71% of their vote. a vote they expect to lead to change. >> hey, obama, don't deport my
momma! >> but reform is too big of an issue for just one party. so they've made their way to the outside of the senator marco rubio. >> we ask him to stand up and champion our cause. >> they're giving a couple speeches. a lot of the local media have shown up. the plan is for them to all march inside and get senator rubio to make a statement. the son of cuban immigrants, rubio has the story that connects with the latinos. >> my father was born to a family in rural cuba. >> and rubio in the gop's best shot at reaching this crucial vote. >> his parents were cuban exiles. they did everything they could to guarantee him a better tomorrow. >> right. >> so we're trying to say, you know, champion the cause. whether he's here or not, nobody ever says anything, it's like we'll get back to you. you're an elected official, you
should be available to the people. >> marco rubio, 350. >> we can only have one group in the elevator at a time. >> many of these marchers are undocumented and they're taking a huge risk being here today. >> we'd like to speak to mr. rubio. >> because an arrest could lead to being held and deported. >> excuse us. >> y'all just get back a second. >> i was told there are six of you out here. our room is not big enough to accommodate everybody. so if i could get five or ten of you that we could meet with, that'd be great. okay? the senator's in washington today. >> in senator rubio's absence, a few of us have been elected to have an audience with todd reed. >> we need the republicans to step forward. and we need them to help us.
>> i grew up here in florida most of my life. we migrated. i work with the youth. i've learned a position where we have to take opportunities that are there. >> i don't know if any of y'all have had a chance to hear the senator talk about this issue. this is a very personal issue for him. and i think this year he's going to be taking a bigger approach. so i appreciate you guys coming. >> thank you very much for your time. >> thank you all very much as well. appreciate it. >> it was kind of like a little exciting democracy in action moment today. >> i don't want to get ahead of the senator on this, but i would anticipate in the next few weeks you would hear him speak very clearly on where he is on this issue. >> maybe this is just a first step for them. we'll see what happens in the next few weeks. but this could have been the catalyst towards something bigger happening. the value of your education is where it can take you. (now arriving city hospital.)
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as planned, the promise group marched to washington where they got their meeting with senator rubio. but they had to wait a few more weeks to get a taste of what they all came to washington for. >> we're here to announce a set of bipartisan principles for comprehensive immigration reform legislation. >> the gang of eight are
a group of senators including senator rubio agreeing that immigration reform needs to happen and it needs to happen now. maybe not for the best reasons. >> the republican party is losing the support of our hispanic citizens. >> for the first time ever, there's more political risk in opposing immigration reform than in supporting it. >> but if reform is the result, that's all that matters to people like carlos. it's a pretty campus. >> it is. >> all of pasqual's sacrifices have paid off. he's been able to enroll in a local college where he can work toward earning a law degree. >> i had to come and see dr. murphy. this is my father right here. i'm showing him around the campus. >> nice to meet you. >> can i introduce you to my dad? >> nice to meet you. you should be very proud of carlos. he's definitely one of our prized students. >> a kid as dedicated at carlos deserves the chance to
contribute to society. and if immigration reform becomes a reality, the possibilities are endless. right there. on that hill. how long ago was that? >> never imagined i'd end up coming here to go to school. >> when you're here at school, you always have a reminder of the sacrifice your dad made. >> yes. especially if one day i become a lawyer, i can't forget where i came from. >> yeah. congress is currently debating the plan to create legal pathways for undocumented immigrants. and a new guest worker program which would better meet our labor needs. but it could still be a long road if and when these ideas are passed into law. for carlos, pasqual, and others who risk their lives to work for the american economy and the
american dream, time is of the essence. >> one way to reach out to the community because there's drugs and violence. people love soccer. >> these immigrants are part of the fabric of our daily lives. thank you. thanks for your time. thank you very much. and it's time they're allowed to live openly and work toward making a legitimate life for themselves and for their children. i think that carlos will work every day and night to become a lawyer just so he could hear his father say look at this. look at my son. the son of a fruit picker became a lawyer. that's powerful. >> from the company that i work for in florida picking oranges, there's my check. $86.73 big ones. in actuality, i should have only gotten paid for three tubs.
28.a -- $28.50. but since they can't pay you below minimum wage, i got the minimum wage adjustment which is $67.47. this is one of the hardest jobs i've ever done in my life. yeah. sheridan county, nebraska, is the type of place most people think of as the heartland of the u.s. cafes, greasy spoons, tiny schoolhouses. there's lots of little places like sheridan in this country and they're each unique in their own special way, but sheridan's unique in a special way because in 2012 it was one of the single hottest, driest places in the entire united states. and the people of sheridan are still reeling from the effects of drought. >> we are living in one of the worst droughts of the past 100 years. >> three-fifths of the u.s. from sea to shining sea is dry.