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September 2, 2012 | By Stephen Ceasar, Los Angeles Times
To kick off his summer vacation, Herik Lopez rolled out of bed at 3:30 a.m., dressed in the dark and within an hour was among the workers in an Imperial County field, yanking melons from the dirt. The 16-year-old worked through the morning, taking only a 15-minute break to gobble down the tacos de machaca y huevo - shredded beef and eggs - his mother had made. A few days later, he awoke at 7 a.m. in a dorm room at the University of La Verne. Well-rested and among other teenagers like him, he strolled across the quaint campus to Founder's Hall for his English class.
August 21, 2012 | Patrick McGreevy and Michael J. Mishak
California farmworkers would receive the same overtime pay benefits enjoyed by workers in other industries under a measure approved by the state Senate on Monday and sent to Gov. Jerry Brown. The bill would accord farm laborers overtime for working more than eight hours in a day or more than 40 hours in a week. Under existing law, they receive overtime only if they work more than 10 hours in a day or 60 hours in a week. "This measure provides the same protections for farmworkers that other employees have long been entitled to," said Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto)
June 22, 2012 | By Tom Nassif
Every harvest season, U.S. produce growers have a narrow window in which the success of an entire year's work is dependent on human labor. With some crops, this window is only a few days. But finding a secure, reliable workforce to bring in the harvest can be extremely difficult. Over the last decade, American farmers have floated many ideas for remedying this situation, but they haven't been able to stir up the political will to change a broken immigration system. Both political parties share in the failure to act. In 2009 and 2010, Democrats controlled the White House and both houses of Congress, yet there was no action on immigration reform.
May 30, 2012 | Steve Lopez
FRESNO - It was around 2 o'clock, temperatures rising under an arcing sun, when I met two workers on a peach farm near here recently. One had first entered the country illegally nearly 40 years ago but later became a U.S. citizen at a time when the process wasn't so difficult and politicized. He became a foreman, and he and his wife raised three children who went to California universities and got good jobs. The second worker, who was thinning peach trees, is here illegally from Mexico.
May 28, 2012 | By Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times
Rolando Zaragoza, 21, was 15 years old when he came to the United States, enrolled in an Oxnard school and first heard the term " Oaxaquita. " Little Oaxacan, it means - and it was not used kindly. "Sometimes I didn't want to go to school," he said. "Sometimes I stayed to fight. " "It kind of seemed that being from Oaxaca was something bad," said Israel Vasquez, 23, who shared the same mocking, "just the way people use ' Oaxaquita ' to refer to anyone who is short and has dark skin.
May 27, 2012 | Steve Lopez
DELANO, Calif. - "You'd think agriculture would have Republican politicians on our side, but on this issue we don't," Kevin Andrew was saying as we toured some grape fields north of Bakersfield, where farmworkers were thinning vines. Come harvest time, far more workers will be needed. And here's the problem, as Andrew sees it: There could be a looming labor shortage related to tight border security and other factors, including an improved Mexican economy. But GOP congressional reps, in particular, remain opposed to temporary legalized status and coming-and-going privileges for undocumented farmworkers.
May 23, 2012 | By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A 29-year-old farmworker was convicted Tuesday of the murder of South African white supremacist leader Eugene TerreBlanche, but his teenage companion was acquitted in the killing, which had sparked fears of racial violence. Chris Mahlangu was found guilty of killing TerreBlanche, his employer and longtime advocate of a separate state for white Afrikaners. Patrick Ndlovu, 18, who was 15 and present at the slaying, was found guilty of housebreaking with intent to steal.
May 20, 2012 | By Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times
Wearing jeans, green sneakers, a hipster straw bowler and a Buddhist symbol around his neck, the new poet laureate of California opened his weekly poetry workshop at UC Riverside with stretching and breathing exercises. "Let's detox our cluttered academic brain. That's what the poet does," said Juan Felipe Herrera, 63. "People call it daydreaming, detoxing our minds and taking care of that clutter. It's being able to let in call letters from the poetry universe. " Herrera then launched into poems by Federico García Lorca and other 20th century masters and had students recite their own compositions for group critiques.
May 16, 2012 | By Sandra Hernandez
The House GOP appears to have had a last-minute change of heart Wednesday, voting to restore some protections to a bill that helps victims of domestic abuse. Last week, the GOP-led Judiciary Committee approved a measure that called for changing the Violence Against Women Act, including eliminating protections for immigrants who are victims of domestic violence. Enacted in 1994, the act has been reauthorized twice with broad bipartisan support. The law allows an immigrant who is married to a U.S. citizen or green-card holder -- and therefore eligible to stay in the United States -- to file independently without having to rely on an abusive spouse.
October 10, 2011 | By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
The trial of two black farmworkers charged with killing South African white supremacist leader Eugene TerreBlanche opened Monday, underscoring the racial tensions that persist 17 years after democratic election laid apartheid to rest. As the trial began after months of delays, the two defendants pleaded not guilty. TerreBlanche, 69, was found beaten to death on his farm last year. Prosecutor George Baloyi told the court the pair found TerreBlanche asleep on his bed and beat him to death with a steel pipe in a dispute over wages.
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