Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A U.S. shantytown

Voice of San Diego offers a three-part look at a squatter communtiy of Mexican immigrants in Carmel Valley.

Here are two eye-catching quotes:

Over the past few years, the men have been squeezed further and further into the valley. Now, they are cornered. The small patch of land where they currently live is bounded to the east and the south by protected city parkland, to the north by a freeway and development, and to the west by land they have already been evicted from.

Inside the camps, about 200 people -- nobody knows for sure how many -- are living in conditions that can only be described as Third World. The migrants have no running water, no electricity and no permanent structures to shelter under. They wash their bodies and their clothes in the same sulfur-yellow stream that carries the run-off of farms and houses down the valley. Most simply go to the bathroom behind the nearest bush.
Migrants have lived in their shanty town of cobbled-together shacks in Carmel Valley for more than two decades. Bathing in a nearby stream and surviving on the fringes of one of the world's most affluent societies, the men have carved an existence by working on nearby farms, laboring on construction sites and working illicitly for private homeowners.

The men have been a vital cog in San Diego's economy for a long time. For decades, barely a strawberry or tomato has been picked in the county that has not been touched at one point by the hands of an undocumented migrant. Few of the vast swathes of new homes that stretch from the ocean to the desert were not built or beautified in some way by the workmanship of these men.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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