By Herman Baca
The immigration proposal exposing the hypocrisy & manipulation of the so-called immigration issue (or Mexican undocumented worker) is the foreign “guest worker” program. To date, every immigration plan proposed has included a proviso for a foreign worker importation program. Why, the historical reason is; “The U.S.’s economic addiction to cheap and exploitable labor.”
Historically, the U.S. has always had foreign worker importation programs. Beginning in 1619 with the importation (slavery) of 20 Afro-American slaves (labor) to Jamestown, Virginia. Later Chinese, Irish, Filipinos, Okies from the dust bowl, and Central Americans workers. Since the end of the U.S.-Mexican War, millions of contracted Mexican have been workers under bilateral agreements (such as the Bracero Program of 1942-1964) between the U.S. and Mexico.
It is a historical fact that all foreign worker importation programs (especially for Mexican labor) have been created by politicians to satisfy the U.S.’s secondary labor sector addiction for cheap and exploitable labor. The secondary labor sector is comprised of agri-business, hotel/motels, restaurants, tourism and home care. This is the U.S. economic sector where enforcement of existing labor, safety and health laws are basically non-existent, and workers have few RIGHTS!
The abuse of the worker in U.S. foreign importation programs has historically been documented. From the Afro-American slave system (1619) that made King Cotton successful to Chinese workers (1863) who built the transcontinental railroad. Filipino workers (1920) who picked crops in California agriculture to Mexican Braceros workers who picked America’s food. The Bracero Program, supposedly a war time (1941-45) agreement, proved so profitable for U.S. corporate interests (especially agri-business). That program lasted until 1964, or 19 years after WWII.
The Bracero Program, according to U.S. Labor Executive, Lee G. Williams who oversaw the day-to-day operation was; “Nothing short of slavery, a way for big corporate farms to get a cheap labor supply from México under government sponsorship, and a money grabbing scheme by the corporate farms and sugar interests.” Williams concluded, “I pray that they don’t reinstate this type of program.”
The Bracero Program exposed the hypocritical manipulation and exploitation by corporate interests, and the complicity of U.S. government’s policy of, “drying out wetbacks.” The policy allowed the U.S. Border Patrol to return “illegal” Mexican farm workers arrested on U.S. farms to the U.S.-Mexico border where they were issued “legal” documents, and then brought back to the very farms on which they were found!
Further proof of, “The U.S. economy being addicted to cheap and exploitable labor,” was voiced by Arizona Republican, Senator John McCain during the 2013 bi-partisan immigration panel. Senator McCain stated, “Without a commitment to a legal temporary worker program for our high-tech community and agriculture sector, there is no such thing as comprehensive immigration reform.”
Further proof of the above came from the 2014 U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s $50 million amnesty campaign to import foreign workers as well as the thousands of white Americans (probably Donald Trump “build the wall” supporters) that daily pick up Mexican workers at their local Home Depot.
However, for conclusive proof one has to look no further than the hypocrite politicians, media and government officials that hire (mainly) Mexican undocumented workers. Included are (partial list); at the top Republican white supremacist, Donald Trump. Ron Nehring, Ted Cruz’s spokesman, and past Chairman of the CA Republican Party. Ex. San Diego Mayor, CA Governor, presidential candidate Republican “Prop 187” sneaky, Pete Wilson. Mitt Romney, U.S. Presidential Republican (2012) candidate. Meg Whitman, CA Governor Republican (2010) candidate. The Democratic Party National Committee! White supremacist mouth piece Lou Dobbs. Also unbelievably a Homeland Security Regional Director, Ms. Lorraine Henderson whose job was supposedly to stop “illegal immigrants” from entering the U.S.?
Historically, what is the Chicano’s political position on the “importation of foreign guest workers?” Since the 1950’s, adamant opposition! On record as opposing so-called guest worker-slave Bracero programs are; activist scholars Ernesto Galarza, Herman Gallegos, Julian Samora, Rudy Acuna. Labor organizers Bert Corona, (Hermandad Mexicana), Cesar Chavez (United Farm Workers), Baldemar Velasquez, (Farm Labor Organizing Committee), Guadalupe Sanchez, (Arizona Farm Workers), Antonio Orendian, (Texas Farm Workers). Noted Chicano political activists; Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, Reis Lopez Tijerina, Abe Tapia and Jose Angel Gutierrez. All have condemned the massive violations caused by these programs, including the human rights of Mexican workers, and the civil rights of this nation’s 60 million Chicanos/Latinos.
Some Democratic/Republican presidential candidates (representing corporate interests) have called for “guest worker,” programs. These proposals are viewed by Chicanos as political ruses to insure that persons of Mexican/Latin ancestry remain second class citizens, and Mexican undocumented workers stay in a caste system with no RIGHTS!
Herman Baca is a resident and business owner in National City and the longtime President of the Committee on Chicano Rights. This is part four of a six part series:
Part 2 — Amnesty: A Path To Citizenship?
Part 3 — Securing the U.S.-Mexico Border?