As early as midnight, scores of Mexicali residents with U.S. citizenship or legal status line up at the port of entry. They cross into Calexico, walking past darkened storefronts, and gather near a 24-hour donut shop. Before dawn, they board buses for fields across the Imperial Valley.
Every year, some 15,000 people legally cross the border to work on farms in the region. In the winter, they join local residents in harvesting as much as 90% of the nation’s vegetables.