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A Migrant Worker's Childhood

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

And as part of our ongoing series of commentaries on immigration, Margarita Hernandez remembers coming to the United States as a child in 1967--five years after her father arrived. He was part of the Bresaro program, which brought Mexican workers to American farms.

MARGARITA HERNANDEZ: My first impression of California is brightness that hurts my eyes. No trees, no houses, no streets. Just rows and rows of tomato plants that are lost in the faraway horizon. It's also very, very hot. I am seven and my sister is six. We spot Mommy on all fours among the plants. She sees my sister and me, comes up to her knees to hold us close, and begins to cry. We couldn't, then, understand why. That's how we became farm workers.

HERNANDEZ: the lower branches. And, Alma(ph), with her little bucket, would pick the fruit on the ground.

HERNANDEZ: Now, my life is different. The fields and orchards are a thing of the past. My daughter has such a different life. Growing up trilingual, learning to love learning. But, I believe you should never forget where you come from, especially if you come from people who know the honor of work.

HERNANDEZ: humbled and grateful for having work.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: Commentator Margarita Hernandez is a columnist for La Estrella in Fort Worth, Texas. Tomorrow, another view of immigration. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Margarita Hernandez