February 10, 1978
La Casa de Cortez, Publications
By, Arturo Cortez
“A battle I once lost, God for give me,”
Statement; by Arturo Cortez
Before subcommittee on alien labor and small growers, &
Senate select committee on Small Business
On a day much like today only it was February 10, 1978 Arturo delivered his massage to our nation from Portland, Oregon:
I want the following statement on record for these hearings :
Some time this month Congressional representatives accompanied by Vice President Walter Mondale will visit Mexico for talks with Mexican President, Lopez Portillo. It is my understanding that the high level negotiations will result in higher prices for Mexican oil and natural gas in exchange for Mexican endorsement of the Bracero Program contained in Carter’s immigration proposals which are adjunct to his amnesty plan.
Such a move towards certification of foreign labor could clearly mean that regulations and standards would be implemented, that might set precedent for a larger scale Bracero Program. Although, I sympathize with an understand the problems which farmers are faced with, the issues brought up in these hearings require us to do more than simply address the needs of farmers as they were expressed in the Washington, D.C. hearings.
Let’s consider some of the adverse effects of the proposed legislation on domestic farm workers. History has showed us that Bracero Programs have been used as an instrument by farmers and immigration officials to oppose efforts to organize and/or unionize domestic farm workers, and inhumane working condition for resident and imported labor alike.
Social harassment and police state tactics are directed at resident farm workers as well as at persons who are imported by immigration officials; and lead to violations of civil rights of domestic farm workers as Citizens of the United States and the State of Oregon.
Have we really considered alternatives to a captive farm labor force? I believe the answer lies not in the importation of a foreign labor, but in the unionization of the domestic farm workers. This would eliminate the slave like housing and economic conditions that farm workers are forced to live with.
I think that realistically speaking, farmers are simply not willing to face up to their responsibilities as employers in this regard. Poor working conditions result in the workers losing interest in their work, and in inefficient farm production. We must all work together in order to make farm work a respectable and profitable operation for farmers and workers alike.
I have only addressed myself to a few of the many issues involved in this question. However, enough doubt has been raised in my mind that I feel that I must mobilize any and all resources at my disposable to appose attempts to import a foreign labor force. I can not and will not support President Carters labor immigration proposals as presented in the Amnesty Plan. It is time for the United States Government to begin respecting the rights of it’s resident farm workers, and stop exploiting foreign labor.