On the side of the road of Mendota, a small farming town in California’s Central Valley, more than half of the population lives below the poverty line and unemployment tops 40 percent. Known as the “Cantaloupe Capital of the World,” it has gotten more attention lately for the severe drought that has all but shut down the agricultural production on which most of the town’s 10,000 residents depend. Adding to the town’s troubles, strict environmental regulations have cut the amount of irrigated water local farms can receive from the state of California. The water shortages along with years of political bickering and neglect haven’t hurt everyone in the region’s $20 billion crop industry, but it has had a noticeable effect on the mostly Hispanic migrant laborers, who are out of work and increasingly lining up at food distribution sites, or leaving town to find opportunities elsewhere.

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"Included in this group [the underrclass] are individuals who lack training and skills and either experience long-term unemployment or are not members of the labor force, individuals who are engaged in street crime and other forms of aberrant behavior, and families that experience long-term spells of poverty and/or welfare dependency."

- The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy, by William Julius Wilson