I wish I knew how long Mario has worked with immigrants to our area, but it’s early and I don’t want to wake anyone up with a phone call. Suffice to say he’s made it his life work.
Humberto and his brother were working under HD-1 agricultural work visas that migrants are given to do work in our area. Mendota, Dixon, and Sterling are used to migrant workers.
They have been coming to Mendota for the sweet corn pack for years. They come earlier too to rogue (removing weeds and volunteer corn plants among the seed corn plots) and detassel (taking the tassels which produce pollen off selected rows of corn, leaving the silks to receive pollen from bull rows next to them so that cross pollination occurs). Try as they might the seed corn industry has not found an effective way to automate this process. It is work no one else wants to do, especially in a heat index of 110 degrees, which were the conditions July 19th when Humberto disappeared.
“We didn’t find him. We walked the whole field and he wasn’t there. They’re going back today.”
“He’s not that kind of guy Dave. He knows no English. It’s his first trip to the U.S.. He’s kind of scared here. His brother can’t imagine he would leave the group. Something’s happened. The company won’t pull the work crew off the detasseling to help in the search. We’re appealing for more people to search.”
“Now people are saying maybe he’s slipped away to violate his visa and stay. He’s not that kind of man. He wanted to go home. He was just here to make money and help his family. I know he’s out there. His money, his papers, pictures of his family are still at the hotel. He wouldn’t do this to his brother. It’s not right.”
On Tuesday farmers harvesting seed corn in a field in the search area found the body of a man who was determined to be Humberto Casarrubias Sanchez. Next to the body was a shovel and an orange cap. It now appears he had been there all the time. He may have been disoriented by heat stroke, wandered into the next field, laid down to rest and died. We may never know.
Humberto Casarubbias Sanchez
May he rest in peace.