Coachella, Underground


Gabriel Thompson | Longreads | April 2018 | 25 minutes (7,013 words)

This story was produced in partnership with The Investigative Fund, a project of The Nation Institute. Support the project, subscribe to the mailing list, or follow The Investigative Fund on Twitter and Facebook.


In the spring of 2016, as Trump was clinching the Republican nomination for president, I drove east into the Coachella Valley, looking for a 48-year-old farmworker named Roberto. My cell phone had died and I soon became lost, meandering along country roads where I rarely passed another vehicle. When I finally found Roberto, he was standing outside a single-wide trailer, waiting patiently in his cowboy hat, with an amused smile on his face.

To the north and west of his trailer were more trailers. To the south and east his yard opened into the desert, which gave way, in…

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