By Denis O’Leary
The national conversation around immigration is at its core about how we will define ourselves as Americans, and about our relationships with one another. What we expect and what we consider just are too often one sided arguments with political points repeated for brinkmanship more than collaborative policy building as the goal.
The sub issues are many: harsh working and living conditions, poor wages, families torn apart, a lack of health benefits that saves corporate profit at the expense of tax payer emergency room costs, and youth who are held in the shadows of their parents are just some of the issues faced with. This same work force with their families provide the food, items and services in the best feed and wealthiest country on the planet. Tax provided benefits, education, law enforcement and security are issues that compensate for employers who benefit from an undocumented labor force.
A true and just immigration reform will be a defining moment in our chaotic social-political American fabric and general way of life for years to come. Delayed by opposition and distracted upon by shrill slogans, true comprehensive reform has now become a survival cry in both Democratic and Republican Parties. This year, reform is expected, and voters have made it clear that it will be rewarded with potentially winning margins for those who bring this legislation.
Generations of workers have been called to the United States to toil in the fields, factories, and service jobs that American citizens have rejected. This call has been at times by our government and often from land, factory or service company owners and investors who see their priority of personal wealth overriding civic or legal responsibility.
Too often empty gratitude has become a political echo. Hate and hostility has become common and the men and women who toil in the increasingly political untouchable class have become pawns between patrician strengths.
Republican candidates have lost the last two presidential elections and the majority of races in California in great part to their hard line stand against the Latino community. Penalties, back taxes, fines, fees and standing in the back of the line have become the cries of a Republican Party seemingly open to immigration reform for their own benefit and with their own self-aggrandizing proclamations without wanting to seem weak or rewarding on the issue.
True immigration reform will not happen by itself. On Sunday, March 24, the community is invited to gather to call for an immigration reform that helps people, not entrenched politicians. In Oxnard, as in communities throughout California, families will gather to recognize the people who serve our country, and are by many, exploited and vilified.
This year marks the 20th year since the passing of César Chávez, the co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union. Chavez was also a child in our Oxnard community who went to our schools and an adult who worked in our Ventura County fields.
We have all benefited greatly, as has the nation from the advocacy and laws that have come about from the UFW and “la causa.”
César Chávez was the catalyst of the movement, but many others were on the front line with the labor leader from the very beginning…