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'Take Our Jobs'

Farmworkers to Colbert: Immigration worries? Work in fields

To those who fear that illegal immigrants are taking jobs from U.S. citizens, the United Farm Workers of America says: Take a farmworker's job.

The union is launching a campaign called "Take Our Jobs," promising to have experienced agriculture workers "ready to train citizens and legal residents who wish to replace immigrants in the fields," said a Texas Tribune report posted on TucsonSentinel.com last month.

UFW President Arturo Rodriguez appeared on the Colbert Report on Thursday to pitch the campaign.

A bit of their banter:

Stephen Colbert: "Why do we need to improve the live of farmworkers? They're mostly illegal immigrants, right?"

Rodriguez: "This is true."

Colbert: "They're taking our jobs."

Rodriguez: "Not really."

Colbert: "Yes, really, those jobs belong to American farmworkers."

Rodriguez: "Americans do not want to work in the fields. It's very difficult work, it requires a lot of expertise, and the conditions are horrid. I was in the fields on Tuesday with grape workers out in Delano, Calif., in the San Joaquin Valley, and it was over 100 degrees."

Colbert: "It was over 100 degrees the entire week here - I did my show 22 minutes a night."

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The "Take Our Jobs" site asks interested parties to supply their name and area code to streamline the hiring process. It cautions, however, that "duties may include tilling the soil, transplanting, weeding, thinning, picking, cutting, sorting & packing of harvested produce. May set up & operate irrigation equip. Work is performed outside in all weather conditions (Summertime 90+ degree weather) & is physically demanding requiring workers to bend, stoop, lift & carry up to 50 lbs on a regular basis."

"Somehow, undocumented workers are getting as much blame for our economic troubles as Wall Street, but missing from the immigration debate is an honest recognition that the food we all eat at home, in restaurants and work-place cafeterias, including those in the Capitol, comes to us from the labor of undocumented workers," Rodriguez told the Tribune. "According to the federal government, more than 50 percent of the workers laboring are undocumented."

Rodriguez told Colbert that three people singed up with the program, and are working in the fields.

Colbert offered to make it four, although he was concerned about the air-conditioning in the working environment.

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Latest comments on this storyRead all 9 »

Jul 12, 2010, 10:46 am
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By the way I had lived on the streets and in cars before being arrested for trafficking- less than a pound of marijuana street value around 800-1000$. It is kentuckys second leading cash crop behind tobacco. But still I broke the law as it was. Served out and am shunned worse than a person who is constantly committing a crime. Thanks a lot government you really have showed me your corrupt thru and thru.

Jul 12, 2010, 10:41 am
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yea so still haven’t heard anything back from this “organization”. I agree whole heartedly that one paying legal workers slightly more would not hurt the anyone’s pocket and also that our government is fully working against its citizens. When I was eighteen I broke the law, I sold marijuana and was convicted of trafficking in kentucky. I served my time in prison and have since strayed from trouble. I cannot get a job partly because of the economy and partly because of my felony. I served my time and these people who are commiting a crime daily walk free. I got caught i did my time. all these people are facing is getting deported. I would rather have the ladder but I’m not the one braking the law now. Get out of MY country and give me MY job back!

Jul 11, 2010, 8:40 am
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Using the fact that for many workers in the US, a business can find someone else out there in the world that will work harder for less money as a reason to just allow all these people in to do the work, is just pitiful. Who does this benefit?
Increasing the wages for the pickers would have a small impact on prices. Tomato pickers get 1.4 cents per pound and can earn about $60.00 per day. If pickers got 10 cents a pound, a ‘lazy’ American could earn over $200.00 a day and the price of a tomato would only go up by about 3 cents. I would pay 3 cents more for a tomato.

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