Odilia Chavez, a 40-year-old undocumented migrant farm worker based in California, is the first person to tell her story in a new Modern Farmer "Farm Confessional" feature, and she has a message for anyone who thinks people like her are stealing American jobs: "We’re not taking their jobs. In the 14 years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen an American working in the fields. I’ve never seen anyone work like Mexicans," she writes. "Agriculture is dependent on undocumented workers. We need the money from the farmers, and the farmers need our hands."
She tells her story and describes the low pay and difficult conditions that leave her exhausted by 9pm and awake again by 3am. Even so, she says, she would keep her job even if immigration reform passed. She'd be able to get a driver's license and social security card and see her mom in Mexico for the first time since 2008, but in terms of a job, she and a lot of her fellow workers don't know how to do anything else, don't know how to use a computer, and never got far in school. "We can’t get a better job. They were farmworkers in Mexico and we’re going to die as farmworkers." Her full column is worth a read. (Read more immigration reform stories.)