The faces you see of those arriving, in what could be the highest influx to the United States in 15 years, represent the reality in rural El Salvador, where so many people escaping poverty find only a dead-end.
Years of reliance on imported food has held back the development of the country’s agricultural sector, on which so many rural families rely. This has created a vicious cycle that suppresses the domestic market, limits job creation and forces rural workers to look to cities and other countries, particularly rural youth, who are reluctant to work in agriculture because they see limited returns.
For my family, producing on the land has been a way of life for generations, and I am familiar with the challenges that farmers face.
I also know that Salvadoran farmers need not face a binary choice of stay and struggle, or risk everything by moving elsewhere. Instead of carrying a bag of belongings to the border, harvesting a sack of vegetables can represent the way not only out of poverty, but into a position of security and even prosperity, and I have seen how this can work.