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September 24, 2010 10:36 PM UTC

Stephen Colbert on Migrant Labor

  • 17 Comments
  • by: dlof

Given Colorado’s proud agricultural traditions.  I thought this would be nice to post here.

Comments

17 thoughts on “Stephen Colbert on Migrant Labor

  1. This whole thing just goes to show you how Democrats have made a mockery of our government. Thankfully in November we will be putting some adults in charge.

      1. Where? We have arrived at such a sad state of affairs in America that the average American mistakes comedy for news. If you want to watch a real master of the art of combining sarcasm and intelligence I suggest you watch Glenn Beck.

  2. Both of this, and of his show the night before.

    How is it that the UFW advertises free job training for farm work and only 14 people show up, one of them Stephen Colbert?  The answer is, it’s backbreaking work for unseemly low pay, and Americans know it.

    Colbert said more in his satirical character than most anti-immigrant, free-trade-uber-alles ideologues have said in years.

      1. The last statement Colbert made was one of the most powerful I’ve ever seen before a house committee.

        And no, bj…that’s actually not the case.  As any farmer in Colorado could tell you.  They would happily hire American workers and pay them a good wage to get their crops picked, but they can’t find them.

        The bill Colbert was testifying on was the AgJobs bill…legislation supported by the Colorado farming community.  Please don’t disparage the farming community and come out guns blazing against a policy you know nothing about and which, btw, a majority of Republican farmers support.

      2. Then the farms would probably go out of business due to the too-free trade policies we’ve put in place that reward cheap labor in substandard conditions elsewhere in the world.

        Ace41, I’m not sure how much farmers can afford to pay American workers over immigrant workers.  If we were confident that raising the cost of produce produced here wouldn’t drive that production out of the country…

        Statistics from 2008 say that farm workers make an average of $9.80/hour, but because it’s seasonal work, their total pay for the year is only $9800 (1000 hours).  Labor is only 10% of produce costs, so it wouldn’t be cost-prohibitive to raise those rates – if (and this is the big IF) doing so wouldn’t make the produce more expensive than that coming from other countries.

          1. I saw Chavez, when I was working the fields with poor Whites, poor Blacks, poor Asians and poor Puerto Ricans, if he was alive today he would be fighting this new-UFW pro-illegal immigrants push by Arthuro Rodriquez, tooth and nail.

            Your right, its about exploitation, something Chavez fought for across all lines. But he cared for the honest migrant workers and never, never advocated this current stance of the UFW as supporting an “illegal immigrant workforce.”

            I disagree with Rep. Maxime Waters (sp) and agree with Carol Swain. Get some of those Katrina buses, fill them up with inner-city youth during the growing season and see how many are willing to work the summers. I know I spoke to a ton of them this summer going up and down the D-Line, and around the 16th street mall. Don Kerr of Kerr Industries would agree, but I wonder why Phil Glaize of the US Apple association doesn’t.

          2. 1) Food security.  A lot of our food already comes from other countries, either because we can’t grow it here, or more often because it’s cheaper to grow in other countries.

            2) We have free trade policies that we have interpreted as saying don’t allow us to charge tariffs when other countries aren’t playing by the same rules (i.e. paying decent wages, providing good worker safety, and following good world environmental stewardship).

            3) Our immigration system is bureaucratically slow and does not adequately cover the current flood of immigrant labor.  Charlie mentioned Chavez promoting legal immigrants – well, we can’t do that now because we don’t process requests in a timely fashion and we have a very limited quota of work visas.

            4) We don’t have adequate screening of employers, nor do we provide them with the tools they need to screen themselves.  (I do not believe that E-Verify is up to the task at this point…)

            As a result, we have farmers competing against foreign interests on unfair terms, relying on illegal immigrant labor to pick the crops.  We can fix this by improving our employment screening and upping the number of legal immigrant visas to compensate fully, and/or by imposing reasonable trade restrictions on foreign food that doesn’t substantially meet our idea of good practices, or we can let the farms lie fallow here and allow ourselves to be held even more hostage to foreign interests.

            Personally, I’m in favor of some rational trade tariffs, better screening, and more immigration visas until we can even things out enough pay-wise that Americans will once again consider working the fields.

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