Bittersweet Harvest: Mexicans Tackle Trump Over Migrant Row
Bittersweet Harvest is an Australian documentary about a special training camp for Spanish-speaking labor activists who organize immigrant farm workers in the US. It takes its title from a ludicrous claim Donald Trump made accusing Mexican immigrants of being druggies, criminals and rapists. The film profiles two “undocumented” student organizers who, based on stellar academic achievement, have won university scholarships.
As the film ably documents, American’s $400 billion agriculture industry would collapse without the one million immigrant workers who comprise the bulk of its labor force. Americans don’t want these jobs: the living and working conditions are too obscene and the pay too meager. Ironically the substitution of immigrant labor for black slaves has enabled the southern US to maintain the plantation system it developed prior to the Civil War.
Following the trainee activists as they visit farm worker camps, the filmmakers raise thorny questions, such as why neither federal nor state governments enforce basic labor laws, eg child labor, minimum wage and occupational safety laws (limiting exposure to cancer causing pesticides like Roundup and green tobacco sickness).
The film effectively highlights the total hypocrisy of politicians like Trump who use the immigration crisis to score political points. The federal government could shut down illegal immigration tomorrow by a) prosecuting the agro-businesses that employ undocumented immigrants or b) requiring them to pay minimum wage and provide safe living and working conditions. Clearly our elected officials have no interest in doing either: the current system allows Food Inc to reap immense profits at the expense of the illegal labor they exploit.