Publication Date

2013-02-07

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2013-02-06

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

International Studies (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2012-11-12

First Committee Member

Richard Weisskoff

Second Committee Member

Bruce Bagley

Third Committee Member

Margarita Rodríguez

Fourth Committee Member

Ambler Moss

Abstract

The purpose of the present research is to examine data and information on the situation of Mexican farmworkers in the South Florida agricultural industry and to explore their impact on the local economy and US–Mexican Relations. The study concentrates on the Homestead–Immokalee corridor of South Florida where, during the peak of the harvest from October to May, more than 20,000 Mexican farmworkers participate in the agricultural industry. The study found that in 2010, farmers in Florida sold agricultural commodities for more than $7.6 billion, creating a positive direct and indirect impact on the state's economy. The Mexican farmworker labor force maintains Florida as a major contributor to the nation's food supply; however, no comprehensive studies have been done on its presence or economic contribution. These data are analyzed based on existing theory on migration, historical antecedents, and on new, descriptive information about Mexican farmworkers in South Florida. The study demonstrates that without the seasonal influx of migrant farm labor during peak periods, the multi-billion dollar agricultural production would not be possible. Thus, contrary to common perceptions that there is not a large presence nor economic contribution of Mexican farmworkers in South Florida, the present study shows that they are integral to the economy. There are more than 300,000 Mexican farmworkers in the entire state, positively participating not only in local and state economies but also in Mexico’s economy. My evidence suggests that the lack of information and comprehensive studies on Mexican farmworkers in South Florida has contributed to a lack of knowledge and little political attention to this “invisible” labor force. Therefore, in many senses, the Mexican farmworkers have become America’s “forgotten Latinos.” I conclude that the issue calls for new, comprehensive, and better- formulated domestic and foreign policies that recognize the participation of Mexican farmworkers in South Florida and requires their full integration into American society.

Keywords

Mexican Farmworkers; Migrant Studies; South Florida; Agricultural economy; US-Mexican Studies; Homestead-Immokalee Corridor

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