Immigration and jobs

By | July 21, 2010

He also reiterated that the U.S. bishops do not support illegal entry.

The USCCB agrees that “the rule of law is paramount, and that those who break the law should be held accountable,” he said. Immigration reform would honor the rule of the law, added Bishop Kicanas. How? By requiring the estimated 11 million undocumented to pay a fine, pay back taxes, learn English and “get in the back of the (immigration) line.”

The U.S. bishops have long recommended that immigration reform, among other things, must provide a path to permanent residency. They also say that reform should allow for the hiring of migrant workers.

Some supporters of Arizona’s new law have argued that undocumented immigrants in Arizona — as well as other states — have taken away jobs from unemployed Americans. Others contend that these immigrants generally take jobs that others will not accept. The United Farm Workers of America agrees with the latter viewpoint.

In early July, the United Farm Workers, founded in 1962 by the late Cesar Chavez, the grandson of Mexican immigrants, launched a campaign and Web site encouraging unemployed Americans to become farm laborers.

The campaign is called “Take Our Jobs.” On its Web site,, the UFW explains its purpose. “Take Our Jobs is a national campaign … aimed at hiring U.S. citizens and legal residents to fill jobs that often go to undocumented farm workers. The effort spotlights the immigrant labor issue and underscores the need for (immigration) reforms, without which the domestic agricultural industry could be crippled, leading to more jobs moving off shore.”

The union states that U.S. agriculture is dependent on the immigrant workforce. “Three-quarters of all crop workers … were born outside the United States,” the UFW’s Web site says. It quotes government statistics showing that at least 50 percent of crop workers since the late 1990s are not authorized to work here legally.

“Missing from the (immigration) debate … is an honest recognition that the food we all eat — at home, in restaurants and workplace cafeterias — comes to us from the labor of undocumented farm workers,” says the UFW.

As of July 8, only three people responded to the UFW offer, according to UFW president Arturo Rodriguez.

The UFW campaign may just be a publicity stunt, but it may demonstrate that one argument in support of Arizona’s immigration law — that undocumented workers take jobs from legal residents — is based on inaccurate information.

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