MetroFocus: August 19, 2021

Over the weekend, Haiti was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake and then by Tropical Storm Grace. Thousands have perished and as families continue to dig loved ones out of the rubble, over 500,000 children are living without proper shelter, food or clean water. Haiti- which was still reeling from the assassination of its president in July- is once again in crisis and in immediate need of aid. Tonight, State Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, the first Haitian-American to serve in New York’s Assembly, joins us to discuss her office’s efforts to support the people of Haiti as well as New York’s large Haitian population.

When you think of Suffolk County on the eastern tip of Long Island chances are you think of images such as wind swept beaches and quaint little towns and villages, lovely homes, even vineyards. But there is a dark and troubling history to that area known by very few. In Hampton, people lived and worked in situations that were similar to oppressive and brutal prison environments. Thousands of workers lured by promises of good wages and decent housing were often cheated out of pay and housed in deadly slum-like conditions. And in the second half of the 20th century that area was home to more than 100 migrant labor camps. Tonight, attorney and author Mark Torres joins us to discuss his new book “Long Island Migrant Labor Camps: Dust for Blood” and the history of the farm labor camps that once could be found in great numbers across eastern Long Island.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL P ROMAN.

OVER THE WEEKEND HAITI WAS HIT BY A 7.2 MAGNITUDE EARTHQUAKE ALREADY RESULTING IN 1,900 CONFIRMED DEATHS AND LEAVING HOUSES, ROADS AND HOSPITALIZATIONS IN AT LEAST PART OF THAT NATION IN RUINS.

THIS SITUATION IS REMINISCENT OF THE DEVASTATING 2010 EARTHQUAKE IN HAITI.

AS CITY WORKERS WATCH THESE EVENTS UNFOLD, MANY, OF COURSE, ARE LEFT WONDERING WHAT THEY CAN DO TO HELP.

AND JOINING US NOW WITH THE LATEST ON THE EARTHQUAKE AND WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO ASSIST THE PEOPLE OF HAITI, IT'S NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMBER.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER, WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM.

IT IS ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, RAFAEL.

IT IS GREAT TO BE BACK TODAY.

FIRST OF ALL, ASSEMBLY MEMBER, HOW MUCH OF THE COUNTRY HAS BEEN DEVASTATED BY THIS RECENT 7.2 MAGNITUDE EARTHQUAKE AND WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST ISSUES THAT THE HAITIAN PEOPLE ARE FACING AT THE MOMENT?

RAFAEL, FIRST I WOULD LIKE TO SAY THAT I REPRESENT A NEIGHBORHOOD OF BROOKLYN KNOWN AS LITTLE HAITI, HOME TO THE LARGEST POPULATIONS OF HAITIANS IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK, SO THIS IS VERY DEVASTATING FOR MY COMMUNITY, FOR FLAT BUSH, FOR NEW YORK CITY BECAUSE HAITI HAS UNDERGONE SO MANY RECENT CHALLENGES, INCLUDING THE ASSASSINATION OF THE FORMER PRESIDENT, CONCERNS WITH THE WORSENING OF THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK AND HAVING A LACK OF SUPPLIES TO ADDRESS THAT AND TO BE FACED ONCE AGAIN WITH ANOTHER NATURAL DISASTER IS LIKE TWISTING THE KNIFE.

CURRENTLY, UNICEF SAYS 1.2 MILLION PEOPLE HAVE BEEN AFFECTED.

THE TERRIBLE SITUATION WAS MADE WORSE BY THE TROPICAL STORM GRACE WHICH LED TO FLOODING AND MUD SLIDES AND IS EXPECTED TO BECOME A HURRICANE AS IT IS IN MEXICO.

CURRENTLY ABOUT 1,500 PEOPLE ARE CONFIRMED DEAD AND MORE THAN 6,900 PEOPLE ARE INJURED IN HAITI AS A RESULT OF THE EARTHQUAKE.

I THINK THE DEATH TOLL IS MUCH HIGHER THAN PRESENTLY REPORTED BECAUSE SEARCH AND RESCUE EFFORTS ARE BEING HAMPERED BY RAIN AND LACK OF RESOURCES.

THEREFORE, WE MAY NOT SEE AN ACCURATE ACCOUNT FOR SOME TIME.

BUT I HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT I HAVE SEEN SOME VIDEOS OF SOME REALLY HEART WRENCHING STORIES OF CHILDREN TRAPPED IN THE RUBBLE, MANY PEOPLE WHO WERE TRAPPED IN BUILDINGS, WERE CRUSHED.

IF THEY DIDN'T DIE INSTANTANEOUSLY, THEY OFTEN HAVE GRAVE INJURIES.

AND, UNFORTUNATELY, THERE AREN'T ENOUGH RESOURCES, DOCTORS, NURSES OR MEDICAL SUPPLIES IN HAITI TO CARE FOR THE INJURED.

THE DESTRUCTION ALSO HAS MADE IT VERY DIFFICULT FOR FIRST RESPONDERS TO HAVE DIRECT ACCESS TO THE REGION.

RIGHT NOW, SEARCH AND RESCUE EFFORTS IN THE COUNTRY ARE HAPPENING AND THOUGH I HEARD THAT YESTERDAY, 16 SURVIVORS WERE PULLED FROM THE RUBBLE OF THE FORMER UNITED NATION BUILDING IN A TOWN THREE DAYS AFTER THE QUAKE STRUCK.

SO WE'LL BREAK DOWN SOME OF THOSE IN A LITTLE BIT OF DETAIL, TIME PERMITTING.

BUT I SAID 1,900 CONFIRMED FATALITIES BECAUSE OVERNIGHT THE NUMBER WAS RAISED.

AT LEAST NPR IS REPORTING THAT THE HAITIAN GOVERNMENT IS SAYING 500 EXTRA CONFIRMED DEATHS, THAT'S 1,900.

BUT THOSE NUMBERS ARE CERTAINLY AND TRAGICALLY GOING TO CONTINUE TO RISE.

BUT DO WE HAVE NUMBERS ON THE INJURED AND ON THE SERIOUSLY WOUNDED?

AND AS I SAID AND AS YOU MENTION, YOU KNOW, THERE IS THE DEVASTATION.

HOSPITALS ARE IN RUIN.

ROADS ARE IN RUIN.

HOW ARE THE MOST INJURED BEING ABLE TO BE TAKEN TO HOSPITALS WHERE THEY CAN BE TREATED?

WELL, CURRENTLY THERE WAS A BRIDGE THAT WAS DISRUPTED, SO THEY ARE ACTUALLY HELPING PEOPLE ON SITE.

THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT COUNTRIES LIKE ISRAEL WHO IS BRINGING THEIR WHOLE OPERATION TO ACTUALLY TAKE CARE AND ADDRESS THESE VERY SERIOUS INJURIES ON SITE.

PEOPLE ARE BEING AIR LIFTED FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER BECAUSE THE ACCESS TO GET FROM ONE AREA TO ANOTHER IS VERY DIFFICULT.

WE ARE WORKING WITH THE MAYOR, MAYOR BILL de BLASIO, AS WELL AS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL IN GETTING FLIGHTS OUT WITH MEDICAL SUPPLIES AS WELL AS MEDICAL DOCTORS AND HEALTH CARE WORKERS WHO CAN GO OUT AND HELP WITH -- WITH A LOT OF THESE VICTIMS.

SO WHAT ARE YOU HEARING ABOUT AFTER SHOCKS?

BECAUSE I REMEMBER AFTER 2010 THEY WERE A BIG THREAT, CAUSING INCREASING DEATH AND DESTRUCTION.

ARE THEY HAPPENING?

WELL, AFTER -- YES.

SO AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE, THEY WERE ABOUT SIX AFTER SHOCKS.

SO THAT'S WHAT WE HEARD SO FAR.

WE'RE WAITING TO SEE IF THERE ARE ANY.

WE'RE WAITING TO HEAR IF THERE ARE ANY MORE AFTER SHOCKS.

NOW, YOU SPOKE ABOUT TROPICAL DEPRESSION GRACE.

I MEAN, ON TOP OF EVERYTHING NOW, YOU HAVE THIS ALMOST HURRICANE FORCE STORM THAT'S HITTING THE SAME AREA.

I MEAN, ASIDE FROM IMPEDING RECOVERY EFFORTS BECAUSE OF THE FEAR OF THE AFTERSHOCKS AND BECAUSE SO MANY OF THE HOUSES HAVE BEEN DEVASTATED, PEOPLE ARE SLEEPING AND LIVING OUTSIDE.

I MEAN, HOW MUCH MORE DEVASTATING IS THIS?

YOU KNOW, I -- ALL I CAN SAY IS THAT WE HAVE TO PRAY.

HAITI HAS UNDERGONE SO MANY CHALLENGES ON TOP OF CHALLENGES FOR THE PAST FEW YEARS.

AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE IN 2010, AS YOU MENTION, LEAVING OVER 200,000 PEOPLE DEAD, THERE WAS AN OUTBREAK OF CHOLERA WHERE AN ADDITIONAL 10,000 PEOPLE DIED.

THEN THE PEOPLE HAD TO FACE ANOTHER HURRICANE, HURRICANE MATTHEW, WHICH AGAIN LED TO MORE DEATH.

AND AS THE COUNTRY IS TRYING TO PROGRESS, WE'RE HIT WITH THIS ASSASSINATION WHERE THE COUNTRY POLITICALLY IS UNSTABLE AND THAT AFFECTS THE ECONOMY AND THE PROGRESS OF THE PEOPLE OF HAITI TO -- TO PROGRESS.

THE THING IS THAT THE 2010 EARTHQUAKE HAS CAUSED A DELAY IN THE COUNTRY PROGRESSING AS IT RELATES TO ECONOMICS, AND STRUCTURE, INABILITY.

SO IT'S REALLY TOUGH.

I ALWAYS SAY THAT THE PEOPLE OF HAITI ARE RESILIENT, ARE STRONG.

WE LIVE IN THE SPIRIT OF OUR ANCE ANCESTORS, THE ABOLITIONISTS WHO PAVED THE WAY FOR MANY OF THE COUNTRIES TO GAIN THEIR FREEDOM AND INDEPENDENCE.

BEING THE FIRST BLACK INDEPENDENT COUNTRY RIGHT AFTER THE UNITED STATES IN 1804 REALLY SET THE STAGE TO LET PEOPLE KNOW HOW STRONG AND RICH THE COUNTRY IS AND HOW EVERYONE AROUND THE WORLD NOW NEEDS TO EMBRACE AND PROVIDE A HELPING HAND.

YOU MENTIONED THE ASSASSINATION JUST WEEKS AGO OF THE HAITIAN PRESIDENT.

SO THERE IS A VACUUM OF POWER.

HOW MUCH IS THIS AFFECTING THE WAY THAT THE COUNTRY IS BEING ABLE TO DEAL WITH THIS DEVASTATING QUAKE?

WELL, IT'S -- WELL, RIGHT NOW, WE HAVE OUR CURRENT PRIME MINISTER WHO WAS JUST INSTALLED.

THE COUNTRY RIGHT NOW HAS BEEN GOING THROUGH SOME IMBALANCES IN TERMS OF FINDING AN INTERIM PROCESS TO MOVE THE COUNTRY FORWARD.

THE COUNTRY HAS YET TO HAVE A FREE AND AIR ELECTION TO ELECT LEADERS TO, YOU KNOW, MOVE THE COUNTRY FORWARD.

SO IT IS REALLY DIFFICULT.

SO IN THE MIDST OF FINDING A STABLE GOVERNMENT AND THE EARTHQUAKE HAS DEFINITELY TAKEN A BIG TOLL ON THE COUNTRY.

RIGHT NOW PEOPLE ARE NOT THINKING ABOUT POLITICS.

THEY'RE NOT THINKING ABOUT GOVERNMENT.

THEY'RE THINKING ABOUT SURVIVAL.

AND YOU TALK ABOUT COVID.

I'M GUESSING THAT BEFORE THE EARTHQUAKE THAT COVID WAS THE BIGGEST HEALTH ISSUE, THE BIGGEST HEALTH CHALLENGE AFFECTING THE PEOPLE OF HAITI.

TO WHAT DEGREE DOES THIS COMPLICATE THAT ENORMOUS CHALLENGE?

WELL, IN HAITI, COVID-19 CASES STARTED TO SURGE IN MAY.

IN MID-JULY, AFTER A NUMBER OF US ACROSS THE UNITED STATES, HAITIAN ELECTED OFFICIALS, THE U.S. HAD SENT HALF A MILLION DOSES OF MODERNA VACCINE THROUGH THE CARIBBEAN NATION.

BUT WE KNOW THAT HALF A MILLION OF DOSES OF VACCINE IS NOT ENOUGH.

HAITI CURRENTLY HAS A TOTAL OF 20,477 COVID-19 CASES, AND AN INCREASE OF 575 NEW CASES SINCE JULY 12.

AND THERE'S BEEN ABOUT OVER 500 DEATHS.

SO IT'S OBVIOUSLY VERY SCARY.

OBVIOUSLY IT WILL CONTINUE TO THIS SPREAD WITH THE TROPICAL STORM, WITH THE EARTHQUAKE.

AND WHEN PEOPLE HAVE TO CONGREGATE, ESPECIALLY INDOORS IN SHELTER TYPE SETTINGS OR WAIT IN CROWDS TO GET FOOD, THAT IS A BIG RISK.

SO ALL OF THIS THAT'S HAPPENING, WE'RE TAKING NOTE OF.

SO QUICKLY, WE HAVE LESS THAN THREE MINUTES.

I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS DOING HERE NOW, THE AMERICAN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND WHAT YOU ARE ASKING THEM OR HOPING WHAT THEY DO BEYOND WHAT THEY'RE DOING NOW.

FIRST I WANT TO SAY THAT THE OUTGOING SUPPORT HAS BEEN ENORMOUS.

BOTH THE LEGISLATORS OF NEW YORK, THE U.S. SENATOR SCHUMER AND GILLIBRAND AS WELL AS OUR CITY MAYOR, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS REVEREND SHARPTON, BOTH PRESIDENTS HAVE BEEN REALLY GENEROUS IN OPENING THEIR OFFICE AND HELPING THEIR CONSTITUENTS TO PROVIDE PLACES TO DROP OFF SUPPLIES.

YOU KNOW, THE NEED IN HAITI IS VERY ENORMOUS, AND WE ARE WORKING WITH THE MAYOR ON CONTRIBUTING AND ROLLING OUT THE MAYOR'S FUND, WHICH HAS A NUMBER OF ORGANIZATIONS THAT HAS BEEN ON THE GROUND SINCE 2010 THAT IS CURRENTLY HELPING.

WE DID LAST MONTH AUTHOR A LETTER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN ASKING THE PRESIDENT TO END DEPORTATION, RAISE THE REFUGEE ADMISSIONS FOR HAITIANS AND OFFER HUMANITARIAN AID IN THE FORM OF FOOD AND COVID VACCINATIONS.

IN ADDITION TO THOSE REQUESTS, I THINK IT'S LONG OVERDUE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE CARIBBEAN, AND THAT'S SOMETHING THAT WE NEED TO -- WE NEED HELP FROM THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.

OKAY.

SO WE HAVE ABOUT 30 MINUTES LEFT.

AND I KNOW OUR AUDIENCE WANTS TO KNOW.

WHAT CAN THEY DO TO HELP?

WHAT CAN THEY CONTRIBUTE?

CURRENTLY THIS IS THE WAY YOU CAN HELP.

FIRST OF ALL, WE HAVE A LIST OF HAITIAN ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE LISTED IN THE WEBSITE.

AND YOU WILL SEE ORGANIZATIONS THAT'S BEEN VETTED, HAITIAN-LED ORGANIZATIONS THAT'S BEEN VETTED.

LIKE PARTNERS IN HEALTH, LIKE HOPE FOR HAITI.

THESE ARE ORGANIZATIONS THAT NEED FUNDING.

I HOPE THE PEOPLE DO.

AND GOOD LUCK TO THE PEOPLE OF HAITI.

THAT MORN THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

> WHEN YOU THINK OF THE EASTERN TIP OF LONG ISLAND, CHANCES ARE YOU THINK OF IMAGES SUCH AS WIND SWEPT BEACHES AND QUAINT LITTLE TOWNS AND VILLAGES, EVEN WVINEYARDS.

BUT THERE IS A DARK AND TROUBLING PAST TO THAT AREA.

THAT'S BECAUSE IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE 20th CENTURY, THAT AREA WAS HOME TO MORE THAN 100 MIGRANT LABOR CAMPS, CAMPS IN WHICH PEOPLE LIVED AND WORK IN SITUATIONS THAT WERE SIMILAR TO OPPRESSIVE AND BRUTAL PRISON ENVIRONMENTS.

BUT AS I SAID, VERY FEW PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THAT TODAY.

WELL, THERE IS A NEW BOOK OUT THAT'S TITLE LONG ISLAND MIGRANT LABOR CAMPS, DUST FOR BLOOD.

AND IT TELLS THAT STORY.

WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE THE AUTHOR JOINING US NOW.

NOTED LAYER AND WRITER.

MARK, THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

WE APPRECIATE IT.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME, JACK.

SO HOW DID YOU THEN DISCOVER THE STORY, THIS LONG LOST STORY OF THESE VERY DIFFICULT DIFFICULT ENVIRONMENTS ON THIS LONG AREA?

I TOO AM FAMILIAR WITH THE COUNTRYSIDE.

MY FAMILY VACATIONED THERE FOR 20 YEARS.

AS A HISTORY BUFF, I'M ALWAYS LOOKING FOR MORE HISTORY.

I ACTUALLY INCORPORATED IT INTO MY FIRST MODEL.

THAT WAS INCORPORATED AS A FICTIONAL SETTING, BUT I ALWAYS KNEW I WANTED TO COME BACK TO IT.

I DID IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO AND I CAME BACK TO IT AND FOUND A TROUBLING HISTORY, AS YOU MENTIONED.

GIVE US A SENSE OF THE SCOPE OF THIS SITUATION, THE NUMBER OF THESE CAMPS, THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO LIVED AND WORKED IN THESE CAMPS DURING THAT, LET'S SAY, HALF CENTURY.

WELL, INITIALLY, THE FIRST CAMP WAS OPEN IN NEW YORK.

IT'S CALLED LAKE LODGE.

THERE WERE FOUR CAMPS AT THE TIME.

BY 1951, THERE WERE 28 REGISTERED LABOR CAMPS.

AND BY 1958, IT BALLOONED TO 134 REGISTERED CAMPS IN THE COUNTRY.

THIS IS JUST SUFFOLK COUNTY.

THEY CERTAINLY DOMINATED THE REGION AT THE TIME.

I SUSPECT PEOPLE WHO ARE WATCHING AND LISTENING TO THIS MIGHT SAY WHY WAS THERE SUCH A NEED FOR LABOR CAMPS IN THAT AREA OF LONG ISLAND?

AGAIN PROBABLY THINKING OF WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE AND WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TODAY.

TELL ME THE HISTORY OF WHAT WAS GOING ON THERE IN TERMS OF FARMING THAT LENT ITSELF TO THIS NEED, THIS EXTRAORDINARY NEED.

SURE.

THOSE FAMILIAR WITH THE AREA NOW RECOGNIZE THE BEAUTIFUL, BROAD COUNTRYSIDE.

PRIOR TO THAT, IT WAS MOSTLY POTATO FARMING.

AND THAT DOMINATED THE REGION FOR MANY YEARS.

19th CENTURY EASTERN EUROPEANS BROUGHT WITH THEM THE SKILLS OF GROWING THESE CROPS.

AND IT REALLY TOOK OFF FROM THERE AND A FULL-FLEDGED INDUSTRY BEGAN.

GIVE US A SENSE.

TALK ABOUT AROUND 1950 OR SO.

HOW MUCH POTATO FARMING WAS TAKING PLACE IN THAT AREA.

SURE.

BY 1949 THE COUNTRY PRODUCED BETWEEN 14 MILLION AND 18 MILLION BUSHELS OF POTATOES.

THAT PROBABLY WAS THE PEAK PERIOD, STAGGERING AMOUNT.

AT ONE POINT IT WAS NUMBER ONE IN THE NATION IN PRODUCING POTATOES.

QUITE AN ALARMING AMOUNT FOR SUCH A SMALL GEOGRAPHIC AREA.

YOU TALK IN YOUR BOOK ABOUT THE IMPACT OF WORLD WAR II ON THE LABOR SHORTAGE, IF YOU WOULD.

DESCRIBE THAT FOR US.

WELL, THEY HAD A SHORTAGE OF 2,700 FARM LABORERS.

THE COUNTRY AND THE AGRICULTURE TRIED EVERYTHING THEY COULD.

THEY EMPLOYED GERMAN POWs, BOY SCOTTS, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS.

ALL OF IT WAS A BAND-AID BECAUSE THEY COULDN'T FIND A PERMANENT FIX.

SO THE NECESSITY FOR THE CAMPS CAME IN AND THE NECESSITY TO BRING IN FARM WORKERS FROM JAY MA KA AND BARBADOS AND MEXICO AND MIGRATING TOWARDS PUERTO RICAN WORKERS AND THEN BLACK WORKERS FROM THE UNITED STATES.

GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR, I DIDN'T REMEMBER THAT THERE WAS A PRISON OF WAR CAMP AROUND AND THE FACT THEY WERE ACTUALLY UTILIZING SOME OF THEM TO DO THIS WORK.

YES.

NOW, THEY WERE PAID.

THEY WERE PAID WITH A FAIR WAGE FOR THE TIME, BUT I'M SURE IT WASN'T OPTIMAL CONDITIONS AND I DON'T QUITE KNOW.

THE RECORDS AREN'T CLEAR WHETHER THESE WORKERS HAD A CHOICE.

SO IT MAY BE A LITTLE INFLUENTIAL, BUT THEY WERE COMPENSATED FOR WORKING THERE.

AND THE INTRODUCTION TIES INTO MY NEXT QUESTION, WHICH IS: WAS THERE A LOT OF AVAILABLE RESEARCH FOR YOU TO TRY TO DISCOVER THE CONTOURS OF THIS STORY?

WELL, THERE WERE NO PRIMARY SOURCES.

AND THAT REALLY WAS DISTRESSING BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, THIS IS AN AREA WHERE THE HISTORY GOES BACK TO THE EARLY SETTLEMENTS.

THEY COULD TELL YOU WHERE THE OLD OAK TREES ARE PLANTED.

YET, NOTHING ON THIS TOPIC.

I HAD TO RELY HEAVILY ON JOURNALISM.

THERE WERE OVER 300 NEWSPAPER ARTICLES, AS WELL AS INTERVIEWS WITH LOCAL PEOPLE AND FAMILY AND LOVED ONES WHO WERE FAMILIAR WITH THE SYSTEM.

AND THAT REALLY FORMED OUT MY RESEARCH, ALONG WITH AN INFORMATION REQUEST WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH WHICH YIELDED APPROXIMATELY 1,000 DOCUMENTS.

SO WE TALKED ABOUT THE BAND-AID APPROACH THAT WAS BEING USED AS YOU MENTIONED.

GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, BOY SCOUTS.

TALK ABOUT THE BIRTH NOW AND THE EVOLUTION OF THESE LABOR CAMPS THAT YOU WRITE ABOUT.

YEAH.

NEW YORK STATE RECOGNIZED THE NEED TO ACCOMMODATE THE THOUSANDS OF LABORERS EXPECTED EACH YEAR.

THERE WAS ONE COUNTRY IN NEW YORK AS WELL AS ANOTHER COUNTY DESIGNED TO USE MOBILE LABOR CAMPS.

THAT'S HOW THEY WERE DEFINED.

THEY WERE HARDLY MOBILE.

THEY WERE FIXED.

THEY WERE SET IN THESE LOCATIONS, AND THEY WERE ALL REPORTED TO HAVE TERRIBLE CONDITIONS.

FOCUS ON THOSE CONDITIONS BECAUSE I THINK THERE ARE PHOTOS IN YOUR BOOK THAT SHOWS, YOU KNOW, SOME OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES THEN.

SOME OF WHAT'S LEFT OF THESE AREAS.

BUT DESCRIBE FOR US THE NOTION OF WHAT THESE CAMPS LOOKED LIKE, WHAT THEY FELT LIKE, WHAT THE WORKING CONDITIONS WERE FOR THE LABORERS.

AND THAT WAS IMPORTANT FOR ME BECAUSE REALIZING THERE ARE NO CAMPS SAVE MAYBE ONE OR TWO REMAINING STRUCTURES, I WANTED TO PAINT A PICTURE WHAT THESE WERE LIKE, NOT ONLY IN PHYSICAL APPEARANCE BUT THE EFFECTS ON THE WORKERS.

THEY WERE ALWAYS RUN DOWN, ISOLATED CONDITIONS.

NO TELEPHONES, LITTLE RECREATION.

YOU KNOW, DRIVEN BY CREW LEADERS OR CREW CHIEFS OR CAMP OPERATORS WHO WERE HARD NOSE CHARACTERS WHO ALWAYS DROVE -- THEY WERE PUNITIVE AT TIMES AND RELENTLESSLY EXPLOITING THE WORKERS THERE.

THE CAMPS WERE DANGEROUS.

IT NATURALLY LED TO HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS, CRIME AND VIOLENCE AND ULTIMATELY MANY CASES OF DEATH WITH PEOPLE DIED PRIMARILY OF FIRES.

I WAS STRUCK BY, AND TELL ME IF I'M WRONG ABOUT THIS, BUT LOOKING AT WHAT WE MENTIONED, THE USE OF GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR, WHO, AS YOU SAID, WERE PAID SOME SORT OF A WAGE, FAIR PERHAPS.

BUT COMPARING THAT TO THESE MIGRANT WORKERS AND WHAT THEY WERE PAID, I THINK, TALK ABOUT THAT A LITTLE BIT.

YEAH.

AND THE THING WAS MANY OF THEM WERE LURED BY FALSE PROMISES OR IN SOME CASES TAKEN BY FORCE.

THEY WERE BROUGHT TO LONG ISLAND TO WORK T A THESE CAMPS.

THEY WERE TOLD THEY WERE GOING TO EARN A CERTAIN AMOUNT PER WEEK.

IT WAS EVERY SATURDAY NIGHT.

AND EVERY TIME THEY GOT THEIR CHECKS OR THE ENVELOPE WAS CASHED, IT WAS FAR LESS THAN WHAT IT WAS.

EVERYTHING WAS DEDUCTED FROM THE PAY FOR THE WORKERS, EVERYTHING FROM TRAVEL EXPENSES, YOU KNOW, RENT TO STAY AT THE CAMPS, FOOD, DRINK AND ALWAYS THE HIGH MARKUPS AND TYPICALLY CHARGED ON CREDIT.

FOR INSTANCE, A BOTTLE OF TWISTER, A COMMON CALIFORNIA GRAPE WINE COST 61 CENTS AT THE STORE.

AT THE CAMP IT WOULD BE $1 CASH OR $1.25 ON CREDIT.

THAT WAS THE KIND OF RUTHLESS EXPLOITATION THAT LED THE WORKERS TO A CYCLE OF PERPETUAL DEATH.

SO ONE CIRCUMSTANCE, AND TELL ME IF THIS REPRESENTATIVE WHAT WAS GOING ON.

YOU TALKED ABOUT A WEEKLY WAGE OF $47.

FROM THAT WAS DEDUCTED MORE THAN 40 MORE FOR TRANSPORTATION.

PAYING TO GO BACK AND FORTH TO YOUR JOB.

YEAH.

PAYING FOR YOUR ROAM AND BOARD, IF YOU WILL.

WAS THAT FAIRLY REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SITUATION?

YES.

IN FACT, THERE WAS ONE WOMAN WHO COMPLAINED THAT SOCIAL SECURITY TAXES WERE TAKEN FROM HER CHECK AND SHE DID NOT EVEN HAVE A SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER OR CARD.

IT WAS THAT KIND OF RUTHLESS EXPLOITATION.

MANY WERE OPEN AND OBVIOUS, BUT MANY WERE HIDDEN.

DEPENDING ON THE CAMP OPERATOR AT THE CAMPS, THEY JUST MOVED EVERYTHING ALONG AT THEIR WILL AND THE WORKERS HAD LITTLE CHOICE TO OBJECT.

YOU SAY LITTLE CHOICE TO OBJECT.

WERE THERE ANY PROTECTIONS IN PLACE FOR WORKERS WE KNOW ABOUT IN THE 1930s AND OFTENTIMES PEOPLE SAY THAT WAS DESIGNED AND DID PROVIDE PROTECTION FOR SOME WORKERS.

WHAT ABOUT THESE WORKERS, MIGRANT WORKERS?

DID THEY HAVE ANY LEGAL PROTECTIONS?

THESE WORKERS ARE SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDED FROM THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT.

IN 1970 CALIFORNIA ENACTED ONE LABOR NEW YORK.

NEW YORK NOT UNTIL 2019.

BEFORE THAT, IT WAS AT THE WHIM OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.

THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, WHICH WAS GENERALLY OVERSEEING THE GOVERNMENT AGENCY OF CONDITIONS AT THE CAMP.

BUT THEY WERE SPREAD OUT.

CAMP LEADERS KNEW WHEN INSPECTORS WERE COMING.

THEY WOULD CLEAN UP THE CAMP SO THE INSPECTION WAS COMPLETED AND IT WOULD ALSO FALL BACK INTO DISREPAIR.

SO THESE WORKERS WERE ESSENTIALLY LIFT TO THE WHIMS OF THE PEOPLE WHO WERE RUNNING THESE CAMPS.

YES.

EVEN WORSE IN 1965, THERE WAS MANY CASES OF A LOST LIMB OR FINGER OR TOE.

YOU KNOW, THEY WERE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR WORKMAN'S COMPENSATION.

THEY WOULD HAVE TO SUE IN COURT.

OF COURSE THEY WERE OUT OF STATE CITIZENS AND HAD TROUBLE WORKING WITH ANYONE LOCAL.

THAT WAS NOT FEASIBLE.

NOW, THERE WERE SOME AGENCIES AND NONPROFIT GROUPS THAT HELPED.

LONG ISLAND VOLUNTEERS WAS FUNDED BY A WEALTHY WOMAN FROM THE NEW ENGLAND AREA.

SHE FOUNDED IT TO CHALLENGE LOCAL AGENCIES, INCLUDING THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.

THERE WERE RARE ACCOUNTS OF JUSTICE THERE, BUT BY FAR THEY'RE THE MINORITY.

OVERWHELMINGLY IT WAS A VICIOUS CYCLE THAT WENT UNCHECKED.

YOU QUOTE IN THE BOOK AND I'M WONDERING IF THIS AGAIN SEEMS TO CAPTURE THE BRUTALITY OF THE SYSTEM.

AND IT SAYS SOMETHING TO THE EFFECT OF, WE USED TO OWN THE SLAVES.

NOW WE RENT THEM HERE.

WELL, THAT CAME FROM THE 1960 DOCUME DOCUMENTARY 'HARVEST OF SHAME.'

HE AIRED THAT TO SHAME THE NATION FOR THE CONDITIONS WORKERS WERE FACING NATIONWIDE.

THAT FILM DID TOUCH UPON ONE OF THE CAMPS IN NEW YORK, BUT IT WAS MORE OF A NATIONAL SWEEPING KIND OF PRODUCTION.

THAT QUOTE WAS QUOTED IN THAT FILM.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

HAVE ABOUT A MINUTE AND A HALF.

ARE THERE REMNANTS?

AGAIN, THERE ARE A LOT OF COMPELLING PHOTOS.

ARE THERE REMNANTS OF THESE CAMPS?

IF NOT, WHAT IS THE PROPERTY USED FOR NOW?

YEAH.

WELL, THE PROPERTY RIGHTS WERE SO GREAT THAT IT WAS EXPECTED THAT MOST OF THESE STRUCTURES REALLY ARE ALL GONE.

THERE IS ONE IN RIVERHEAD.

ONE STORY, THERE IS A BARN, AN OLD BARN THAT WAS ONCE USED IN THE CAMP.

BUT OTHER THAN THAT, THEY'RE REALLY JUST DONE.

AND THAT WAS PART OF THE IMPORTANCE IN TELLING THE STORY.

THAT IF WE'RE NOT CAPTURING AND SHARING IT, WE WOULD NEVER KNOW IT ALL EXISTED.

AS YOU SAID, SOMEBODY WHO HAS LIVED THERE ALL YOUR LIFE AND YOU DIDN'T KNOW THESE STORIES THERE.

THE BOOK IS CALLED 'LONG ISLAND MIGRANT LABOR CAMPS.'

IT IS A COMPELLING STORY WHERE PEOPLE IN THE END WILL SAY I NEVER KNEW THAT, AND IT'S A STORY THAT NEEDS TO BE TOLD.

MARK, THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

GOOD LUCK WITH THE BOOK AND WE'LL TALK TO YOU DOWN THE ROAD.

BE WELL.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

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