Mattea ScheuermanAmerican LiteratureMrs. Lewis17 January 2018 California has a long history of importing farm laborers from foreign countries, of course, with those foreign laborers it caused many issues. Those foreigners include Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos. This essay will show how foreign laborers’ circumstances differ from the Dust Bowl migrants. It will also show the unique circumstances of the Dust Bowl migrants and why Steinbeck believes they will demand different treatment. Lastly, it will state as to what I think of his incorrect prediction about the new farm laborers in California being predominantly white Americans. The migrants that were imported for labor had many different circumstances compared to the Dust Bowl migrants.
One of the major divergences the foreign migrant workers and the Dust Bowl migrant workers is that the foreigners typically came from the peon class. The foreigners were also easily deported as seen with the many of the foreign workers. When causing strikes against the farmers they were often times brought back to the Philippines, Mexico and their countries of origin. Even the slightest suspicion of organization could cause workers to be deported. Onto the Dust Bowl migrants, they used to own land and farms of their own which makes them accustomed to working independently before banks began to close and the Dust Bowl hit. The Dust Bowl ruined their lands and caused them to seek out employment in California rather than being imported.
The migrant workers are American citizens who were forced from their home because of the Dust Bowl as well as many of the banks closing down. Many of the migrants came from the Central Plains which includes Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri. Unlike the foreigners who moved from place to place the Dust Bowl migrants were there to stay whether California wanted them or not. Their traditional ways of farming greatly differed from that of California’s more industrial approach. The homes the workers once had were palaces compared to their living conditions then. The squatter camps or Hoovervilles became the main residential areas for the workers located near the river banks, side roads, irrigation ditches and water springs.
However, at times the migrants were forced pay rent to live in a shanty house with no extra benefits on places such as large farms. Over time the conditions of the migrant workers improved when the Federal government created camps to house migrants. With this the migrants organized themselves to maintain security and sanity of the camps to house migrants.
Steinbeck believed that the workers would organize against the residents of California because of the unfair treatment they had received considering they could not seek out services due to the residents; however, this did not happen. Californians and the foreign migrants did not mix well, making it reasonable that Steinbeck thought that white Americans would be the main laborers. Looking at California’s history with foreign workers many of them have been deported thus making it justifiable.
Steinbeck saw this too and with that analisis he came to that conclusion. Of course, looking at the workforce as it is today, it is clear that his prediction was incorrect. Almost seventeen percent of the United States’ labor comes from immigrants. Foreign-born workers make up millions of people that are within our labor force. I think that Steinbeck was well founded in his prediction, even so, it is clear for anyone to see why he is wrong. In conclusion, the migrant farming communities in the farming communities after the Great Depression suffered terrible working and living conditions.
Nonetheless, the immigration status of Dust Bowl migrants differed greatly from foreign migrants. That is because foreigners would easily be deported from California for organizing against their employers. This essay helped to show the rough circumstances the migrants had to put up with and why Steinbeck thought they would organize against the farmers like the foreigners. Finally, it stated my opinion on Steinbeck’s incorrect prediction about the new farm laborers in California being predominantly white Americans.