The hardest and most dangerous agricultural work in the United States is not done by people who are citizens. It is done by immigrants. Some don’t have proper documents but many do. Documents don’t protect workers from dying. And agricultural workers die of heat stroke at 20 times the rate of other workers:
In mid-July 2005, a male Hispanic worker with an H-2A work visa (i.e., a temporary, nonimmigrant foreign worker hired under contract to perform farm work) aged 56 years was hand-harvesting ripe tobacco leaves on a North Carolina farm. He had arrived from Mexico 4 days earlier and was on his third day on the job. The man began work at approximately 6:00 a.m. and took a short mid-morning break and a 90-minute lunch break. At approximately 2:45 p.m., the employer’s son observed the man working slowly and reportedly instructed him to rest, but the man continued working. Shortly thereafter, the man’s coworkers noticed that he appeared confused. Although the man was combative, his coworkers carried him to the shade and tried unsuccessfully to get him to drink water. At approximately 3:50 p.m., coworkers notified the employer of the man’s condition. At 4:25 p.m., the man was taken by ambulance to an emergency department, where his core body temperature was recorded at 108°F (42°C) and, despite treatment, he died. The cause of death was heat stroke. On the day of the incident, the local high temperature was approximately 93°F (34°C) with 44% relative humidity and clear skies. The heat index was in the range of 86°–101°F (30°–38°C) at mid-morning and 97°–112°F (36°–44°C) at mid-afternoon. Similar conditions had occurred during the preceding 2 days. (CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports)
We complain about immigrants but we’re content to let them do our dirty and dangerous work. It’s not new. Woody Guthrie wrote this in 1941:
Little has changed. The worker who died in our pastures of plenty, at the relatively young age of 56, was neither legal nor illegal. He was a human being that quite literally worked himself to death [corrected]. I think it’s fair to say that most Americans don’t really care that this happens.