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I went down to my old stomping grounds at McGonigle Canyon earlier today.
The shanty town and home to many migrant workers was absolutely deserted. I walked all the way through the canyons and down to the stream where I know they go to wash their clothes. Nothing.
Though there were workers loading tomatoes in a nearby field, all I could find in the sage brush was a couple of tiny shacks that looked like they’d been left in a hurry.
Local activist groups have been focusing on the plight of the region’s farmworkers and have been collecting donations of money, clothing and food for the men, the vast majority of whom are immigrants. The group Border Angels, headed by local activist Enrique Morones, held a massive drive to collect donations for the migrants. Here’s what Morones wrote in an e-mail to supporters after the drive:
Thanks again to all for the incredible support, more than 100 truck loads TODAY @ CHICANO PARK!!! We continue to send donated supply to Qualcomm, South Bay, North County, the East and other drop off sites.
We made several trips to the migrant camps where incredibly many continued to work in fields till end of work day (they continued to work in with horrific air conditions, while surrounding millionaires were advised to leave with reverse 911 call!) Most migrants refused to leave with out there fellow workers. Thank God, we were able to convince some migrants to join us in safe houses.
Jose Gonzales, one of the most active local outreach workers, has been visiting local meeting points for migrants handing out the donations. He said the main problem has been getting food to the migrants. The “loncheras” or lunch trucks that normally serve the migrant communities haven’t been running since the fires flared up, so their main source of nourishment has been cut off.
Terri Trujillo, who heads up migrant outreach at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Rancho Penasquitos, said some of her activists went out into the canyons to plead with migrants to leave. She said nobody wanted to leave because they were fearful of losing their jobs at the tomato plantations.