YUMA, AZ - It's just a few more days before the Gang of Eight senators unveil their plans for immigration reform.
At the center of the debate is how the federal government should account for all those workers who cross over to work and are living in the shadows.
And life isn’t so easy for those looking for opportunities here in the U.S.
Oscar Nery crossed over illegally but has had his green card for the last 20 years.
“I’ve thought about becoming naturalized,” said Nery.
He crosses the border into the U.S. to work everyday.
“I come early to avoid the line,” said Nery.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection processes roughly 5,000 people every morning. Wait times to get in could take hours.
This is why Nery starts his day at 1 a.m. He avoids the lines and gets to rest a few hours before he starts his long day in the field.
“The first day is hard, afterwards I get used to the job,” said Nery.
When we met up with him, he was working in lettuce fields.
“My back hurts. Right now you can’t walk through the beds; it hurts your back and feet," he said.
The work is grueling, and for farmer John Boeltz, his entire harvest depends on Nery and the rest of the crew.
“It takes a certain type of character to do this type of job all day,” said Boeltz.
“I’ve been doing this work for 20 years. I’ve only seen two white people do the job like cutting lettuce, broccoli, weeding. But they didn’t last. You don’t see white people do this job,” said Nery.
It's a job Nery said is his only way to support his family.
“Mexico has no work and the pay is little,” said Nery. “I have two daughters going to school and working here allows me to send them to school.”
And after a more than 12-hour day, it's a long bus ride back to the port of entry.
Nery said the price he pays working is worth everything, knowing his children will have a better future.
Boeltz said between 30,000 to 50,000 of southwestern Arizona’s labor force depends on migrant workers.
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