Friday, May 05, 2006

Tucson Weekly- Tom Danehy's distortion of Cesar Chavez's work

It seems Danehy fell for the distortion of Cesar Chavez’s position on undocumented immigrants currently permeating the Web and online discussion groups. The UFW and other relevant university websites with UFW/Chavez material indeed show that Chavez and the UFW opposed the Bracero POLICY. They protested against companies hiring undocumented immigrants. Unlike present day hatemongers, they DID NOT demonize undocumented immigrants or sought to make them felons. They saw undocumented immigrants as victims and not as the primary cause of low farm wages and unsafe working conditions. As Rev. Jesse Jackson noted, braceros did not come over, they were brought over by the collusion of the U.S.-Mexican governments and by greedy U.S. companies. To UFW/Chavez, the blame rested entirely with American companies supported by unethical politicians. Some braceros, inspired by Chavez/UFW, joined the UFW, while UFW extended assistance to bracerors. UFW also negotiated with the American agri industry on the historic AgJobs and 1986 immigration bill that eventually led to the legalization of 1.3 million undocumented farmworkers. In the current immigration debate, UFW is calling for a comprehensive bill that provides a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants. Chavez worked on the MOVEMENT, which sought to address issues on worker rights, civil rights, health, safety, and environment, social security and social integration of workers, etc. He saw the situation of the poor, excluded, and the weak and sought a holistic and comprehensive solution. The immigration movement at present is pushing for a comprehensive immigration reform. Danehy picks up on Chavez’s position on the bracero program, but removes it from its historical political economy context. By asking how many immigrants should be let in, his question distorts the complex issue of immigration and frames in the controversy by focusing solely on undocumented immigrants. If Danehy wants to talk about numbers, he should start with the numbers related to the impacts of neoliberal economic policies and crony capitalism on workers and communities. It seems that shame should be on Danehy.