Low-Wage America: Rafael Romero

Teen Immigrant from Mexico Picks Mushrooms

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Rafael Taminez Romero

Rafael Taminez Romero in Kennett Square, Penn. Noah Adams, NPR hide caption

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Racks of mushrooms under a greenhouse.

Racks of mushrooms under a greenhouse. Noah Adams, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Noah Adams, NPR

A mushroom picker does his or her work in the cold, moist air of a modern mushroom farm. Rafael Taminez Romero, a 19-year-old Mexican immigrant from the town of Puebla, is one of those workers, earning a living working at a mushroom farm in Kennet Square, Penn.

He tells NPR's Noah Adams he's happy with his job, which pays $6.56 an hour. But it's tough work — the day starts at 5 a.m., and by the next morning a mushroom Romero picked could be in an omelet in a New York City restaurant.

He says he endures the hard work to send money home to his family. Some paydays, it's $150, sent via Western Union. Other times, there's nothing to send. He says he dreamed of going to school, "but I am forced to do what I am doing." Still, he says, "I don't envy anyone."



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