Photographs by Matt Black–Magnum Interview by Alicia Acevedo
Due east of California’s coastline is a whole other world—one made up of red-meat conservative voters and large immigrant communities. Here are a few of the folks who are surviving in this seemingly hostile territory.
In California’s agricultural Central Valley, an estimated 500,000 undocumented immigrants work the fields. Despite dependence on immigrant labor to drive its $50 billion farm economy, the area is, politically, a red island in a sea of blue. Kern, Inyo, Mariposa, El Dorado: all of these counties, which ring the city of Fresno in the middle of the state, turned out for Trump in last year’s election. We visited the area and met with both older residents and the younger generation—the DREAMers, whose immigration status is currently in grave peril—to learn how farmworking residents are living and surviving in this slice of red America.
“Dreamers don’t quit, we don’t back up, and we stay to a challenge ... In the respectful way, we have shown that DACA is a big influence for our nation, and it has shown that people do want to strive for success, and they don’t want a free ride.” Bryan Garcia, Porterville, California
“My opinion of America has changed by thinking it's going to be harder on some people than others. I have hope in the end. It is the people's power that makes the government. It proves the point that there are no dictators. Even the amendments say pursuit of happiness, the right to live.” Jesus Fidel Valerio Valentino, farmworker
“The pain that our community feels every single day, the fear, the tears that are wept—it’s not okay. As an individual, I’m going to stand up for what’s right. This country will always be for immigrants, and about immigrants, and it will always be on the fact that you have an opportunity here to be better.” Daniel Peñaloza, community activist, Porterville, California