By Steven J. Ybarra, JD
Every day Mexican citizens work in the United States. For instance, these hardworking individuals toil in the fields, assist and bathe babies and old people, clean homes, wash dishes, mow lawns and even build homes and businesses destroyed by fire, flood and hurricanes in the sun, cold and rain. In some of the Katrina states, police would pick up Mexican citizens at the local home building store in buses to take them to work cleaning up the toxic waste left behind by the storms. The police would make sure that they were taken to places they were needed most. Today, those same police now arrest for deportation the same workers that helped to rebuild their communities.
In Lodi California last week, a 17 year old Mexican citizen working in a field (so that you could have wine grapes) died in 95 degree heat from lack of water. She worked for a contractor who denied all the fieldworkers regular access to potable water and adequate rest in severe heat conditions. He may be the direct reason for her death, but what about the indirect influences? Are we all the real culprits? Are you silent when it comes to assuring that vulnerable workers like Mexicans, who do hard labor that we do not wish to do, have decent working wages and conditions? [Spring break used to be necessary when communities worked together to harvest its fields and all hands were needed especially the strong hands of teenagers! How long would your teenager last in a field in these conditions without water?] She and her unborn child died for our strawberry shake, our tree bean salad, our farm fresh corn; so we can eat organic and drink wine with our dinner!
Here is the question of the day - why is it that the Mexican worker is suddenly the devil incarnate in the United States?
Mexican workers come here to work. They do the work that no one else will do. When Katrina hit it was so toxic that most construction companies refused to work in the area. Not so for the Mexican worker. Mexican workers were able to offer their assistance to do what was needed, depending on their own survival skills and the kindness of their employers to assure their job safety.
Today in the United States, the Border Patrol will check the documents of residents of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas in the event of a hurricane evacuation before they are allowed to board evacuation buses or they will be put on buses to Immigration Centers for deportation. Can you imagine? Now when a disaster hits and any brown skinned person needs help with evacuation they will all suspect that they must produce proof of their citizenship to be able to get help. If they lack the proof they are turned over for processing. Processing, let us see, where did we see that term last? Try Nazi Germany! [Yet the JDL and all the Jewish organizations remain strangely quiet when Mexicans are processed in their communities.] Many have voiced their outrage at these tactics, including the Asian American Justice Center in a recent joint press release with many Latino American Civil Rights Organizations.
Many Americans today are buying the right “wingnut” lie that Mexican workers are destroying the economy. They buy off on the xenophobia put out by the wingnuts who blame the war, gas shortages, and deaths in Iraq on workers who come here to pick fruit and clean toilets at your friendly neighborhood motel.
The hypocrisy must come to an end with this upcoming US Presidential Election. No one in their right mind can blame the worker; it is always the end user. This means us! Yes, even you are at fault. Our society remains silent and thus allows workers to suffer under conditions that you would not put your dog in. You allow workers to be beaten, raped, and murdered by the lack of Judeo Christian concern over what is going on. Why isn’t the winery and wine company who buys the grapes not being held responsible for this death? Oh, I know why, because the republican gubernator in California vetoed the bill to make them responsible. He said at the funeral, this death could have been prevented. It should have but he is too spineless to make the factory responsible for this murder.
I am looking for a US Presidential candidate who has spine. One who has the spine to address the economic inequities that exists in our Country today and by doing so will not forsake the rest of the world in the process. One who has the spine to hold business responsible for the deaths in the fields.
I am looking for one who will take responsibility for the way we treat our neighbors. Recently the narcotraficantes put out a death list in Baja California which listed 22 Federales who were to be murdered. As of last week of the 22, 17 Federales in Tijuana, Mexico either were murdered or shot while on duty and seven resigned from their positions as drug enforcers so that your American community could continue to use illegal drugs. And you blame it on the Mexicans. The fact is that if there was no demand there would be no supply. Obviously we are not getting very far in our Country’s War on Drugs.
Now is the time for all Americans to demand that a real foreign policy be set forth that allows for a fair equitable treatment of Mexico and all of Latin America. This is the candidate that I and a lot of Mexican American voters are waiting to vote for. If the Democratic Party fails to address the kinds of issues raised above, get ready for President John McCain and his minions who will continue policies of murder and destruction.
This editorial is dedicated to the memory of Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez and her unborn child and all workers who have died to make our American life easier.
I will be at the march in Sacramento on Wednesday at the capitol, where will you be?
Steven Ybarra is a retired civil rights attorney who operates a consultant company in California. He is a member of the Democratic National Committee and a long time political activist. Contact Steven at: sjybarra@ aol.com. This article is copyright by Steven J. Ybarra JD, originally published in www.Hispanicvista.com and Obsnews.com.