Last night, talk show host Stephen Colbert took on the United Farm Workers (UFW) union offer calling on jobless citizens to replace immigrant farmworkers.
The tongue-in-cheek “Take our Jobs” campaign addresses the myth that our country’s unemployment rate is rising because undocumented immigrants are “taking jobs” away from U.S. citizens. Because of the obvious racist sentiment in such a myth, there are almost no safeguards for thousands of undocumented people that work on U.S. farms. And yet, much of the food we eat, in restaurants, stores and at home, comes to us from the hard labor of these very workers.
“Take our Jobs” calls on unemployed U.S. citizens to apply for farm worker jobs and harvest the summer’s lettuce, peach and grape crops. Americans can fill out an online application form entitled “I want to be a farm worker”.
Farm workers are ready to welcome citizens and legal residents who wish to replace them in the field. We will use our knowledge and staff to help connect the unemployed with farm employers. Just fill out the form to the right and continue on to the request for job application.
Currently, about 1.8 million people work on farms in the U.S. According the the Department of Labor, about three-fourths of them are foreign-born, and approximately 50% of them are undocumented. And when it comes to working in the fields though, the proportion of undocumented workers is even greater. If all these workers were to be deported, as is the argument proposed by those opposed to immigration, the union holds that the result would be a huge increase in food prices in the country, the rotting of crops, and an increase in imports. the campaign is thus a segue into the need for immigration reform that creates a path to citizenship for these workers that form the backbone of this country’s agricultural economy. As the head of UFW’s union Arturo Rodriguez says, “If we asked all the undocumented immigrants to leave the country, the agriculture industry would die.”
Since its launch, the campaign website have received 2 million views. 5300 people have filled out the application form, but once they find out about the low pay and extremely difficult working conditions, most applicants withdraw their application. Only 3 people out of all those that applied are actually working in the fields.
Talk show host Stephen Colbert had teamed up with the union to promote the campaign. Colbert interviewed Arturo Rodriguez last night on his popular talk show and signed on to be a farm worker, following up his commitment with the question, “It will be air-conditioned, right?” The hysterical interview addressed Arizona’s new law SB1070, growing anti-immigrant sentiment, and invited Americans to take the jobs that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has called one of the top ten most dangerous jobs in the nation. Their exchange went like this (skip to timecode 16:41 on the video) -
Stephen Colbert- You are the 2nd President of the UFW union. What are you working on right now?
Arturo Rodriguez- We are working on improving the lives of farm workers.
SC- Why do we need to improve the rights of farm workers? Don’t get me wrong, you seem like a nice guy, but they’re mostly illegal immigrants correct?
AR- This, is true, but…
SC-So they’re taking our jobs?
AR- Not really…
SC- Yes, really.
SC- Those jobs belong to American farm workers.
AR- Americans do not want to work in the fields. It’s very difficult work, it requires a lot of expertise and the conditions are horrid…
SC- In summer, California is the salad bowl of the country. In winter, salad is grown in Arizona. Are these workers going to go to Arizona if SB1070 gets passed?
AR- If it is enforced, it will be very difficult for them to go, yes…
SC- So is there a chance I won’t have my lettuce?!
AR- There’s a chance that lettuce prices would sky rocket….!
Colbert highlighted how unlikely it was that American workers would be lining up to pick grapes for pay as low as $8 an hour. But in an honest attempt to open up the sector to citizens, the campaign addresses the argument that American workers are harmed by immigration.
It is essential to pass immigration reform that provides due process and fairness to everyone who is crucial to the growth of our country. Because when we deny due process to some, we deny rights to all. Let President Obama and Congress know they must restore fairness to our broken immigration system NOW!