Colorado reaps what it sows
Re “Going behind bars for laborers” and “Missouri town tests immigrant restrictions,” March 1
With a growing sense of horror, I read these articles on immigration as I realized how much events were beginning to resemble Nazi Germany’s early steps toward the Jews. Police knocking on doors because of reports that illegal immigrants lived there; immigrants fleeing so quickly that they leave their belongs behind; landlords forced to investigate the origins of tenants; employers going without needed workers because of their origins; people being refused needed documents, such as driver’s licenses, because of suspicion over their origins. Just substitute the word “Jew” in most of the situations you reported and the hysteria over undocumented workers might also chill you.
This legislation must be the brainchild of someone whose idea of farm labor is picking up a bag of apples at the grocery store. We demand what amounts to racist legislation and then expect someone to do our grunt work. As a boy, I did that kind of work. Have these legislators? I doubt it.
Slavery is illegal in the United States, yet Colorado plans to use slave labor to fill its shortage of farmworkers. Inmates would earn 60 cents a day for long hours of exhausting work in potentially dangerous conditions. At the same time, Colorado’s immigration laws would criminalize many of the farmworkers who sustain the state’s agricultural sector.
Colorado’s labor shortage can be resolved in two easy steps. First, Congress should pass AgJOBS, which would create a stable, legal supply of labor for U.S. agriculture and provide temporary residency and a path to legalization for immigrant farmworkers. Second, growers should pay a living wage and offer benefits to the people who harvest and prepare our food.
Assn. of Farmworker
Colorado should be commended for passing legislation that enforces our country’s immigration laws. As a bonus, the state also will be creating a social program for the rehabilitation of prisoners by providing them a trade in which to become productive citizens.
Re “Backlash backfires,” editorial, March 2
Wouldn’t it be a hoot if someone filed suit against Colorado and its Department of Corrections on behalf of the state’s prisoners, charging that making inmates toil in the hot sun picking melons for 60 cents a day is cruel and inhumane punishment? What would that do to arguments that migrant workers take jobs away from U.S. citizens? And yes, I know that it is supposed to be a volunteer program, but I was “volunteered” for a lot of jobs in the military that I didn’t want to do. I wonder if prison guards are any different from Army sergeants when it comes to job allotment? “I need three volunteers -- you, you and you.”