Migrant workers

Aaron Selbig

Officials in Traverse City are discussing the possibility of “sanctuary city” status. The city’s Human Rights Commission has debated the idea at its meetings over the last few months. The declaration would mean police would not report undocumented immigrants to the federal government.

The Next Idea

I grew up in a family of migrant farm workers. Every spring, Dad would take the truck to the mechanic to make sure it was in good condition to make that 2,000-mile trip across the country to pick crops. I’d let my friends know when we were leaving, and when they could expect to see me again in the fall. I remember waking up to Mom yelling at us from downstairs to get up and get ready to go. We’d scramble out of bed, make sure we all went to the bathroom, and sit down for breakfast before heading out just before dawn.

No matter how prepared we were, we faced many challenges as we went from state to state. We’d break down on the road, and because we weren’t familiar with what resources were available, we would end up spending a few nights in the truck until Dad could find help. It was common to arrive at farms only to find out that we didn’t have work, or that the labor camp was full. Basic health care and educational resources were also scarce. The transient nature of our work, our language and income, and the insecurity of not knowing the local area worked against us.


The city of Holland in West Michigan has certainly made its Dutch heritage known. If the name alone isn’t enough for you, the city has held an annual Tulip Time Festival, celebrating all things Dutch for the last 86 years.

But there’s a sizeable Hispanic community in Holland. The latest census numbers indicate Hispanics make up 23% of the city’s population.