Approximately 63,000 people are currently unemployed in New Mexico. It's also estimated that nearly a third of New Mexicans speak a language other than English in the home, and that's part of the problem.
The injury occurred on the job. A bull mounted a cow, and the worker was pinned against the stall. That led to a bloody and severe shoulder injury, surgery, and an inability to work.
“I went almost one month without work, and then after that, they called me back, but I was in no condition to work,” says this worker. He’s asked us not to use his name because it could jeopardize his ability to find future work in the small, New Mexico town of Portales. “I would bleed at work, and that’s how they had me working at the dairy.”
You wake up at three in the morning. In El Paso. You board a bus, and spend the rest of your day herding livestock, picking chilies, or milking cows. Then, at the end of the day, you’re handed cash for your work, but it may not be enough.
“So if we work eight, nine, ten hours, they put down that we work less,” says an Agricultural worker who goes through this process on a regular basis. He’s asked not to use his real name for fear of retaliation. “For example, they don’t pay us for more than eight hours, so if you only get $40, they say that’s what you worked, eight hours.”
New Mexico's agricultural workers face low pay, dangerous conditions, and have few laws to protect them from abuse. Those allegations are contained in a new report from the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.