Friday, December 22, 2006

Jobs Americans Won't Do

The opening paragraph in the Rocky Mountain News report of December 15, 2006, says it all:

GREELEY - The line of applicants hoping to fill jobs vacated by undocumented workers taken away by immigration agents at the Swift & Co. meat-processing plant earlier this week was out the door Thursday.

Out the door.

Greg Bonifacio heard about the job openings on television and brought his passport, his Colorado driver's license, his Social Security card and even a color photograph of himself as a young Naval officer to prove his military service.

"I don't want to hassle with any identification problems because of my last name," said Bonifacio, a 59- year-old Thornton resident of Filipino heritage.

As it turned out, the Colorado Workforce office that was taking applications did not require any identification.

That would come later for those who made it past the interview process.

Americans want these jobs. Americans will do the work, but too often their places are taken by people who don't belong here but are willing to cheat and lie their way into those jobs. Kudos to the Rocky Mountain News for publishing this followup story.

And kudos to Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) who, as reported Tuesday in the Denver Daily News, has requested the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department to expand their raids to other industries.

In a letter to Julie Myers, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement assistant secretary, Tancredo, R-Littleton, commended Myers for her leadership in the Swift & Company raids, and asked her to expand ICE’s operations to other industries.

“I have already publicly commended DHS and ICE for conducting this work site enforcement at Swift,” said Tancredo, Chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus. “This kind of enforcement action by ICE has been sorely missing over the past decade and I urge you to expand such operations to other industries.”

Of course, groups who side with the illegal workers disagree with Tancredo.

Advocacy groups including the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, representing workers at Swift & Company’s meat processing plant in Greeley, have called the raids a “tragedy” and “reckless.”

“We need to stop these ICE raids, stop the systematic terrorizing of our children, and stop the criminalizing of our communities,” said Lisa DurĂ¡n, director of Rights for All People. “We need to start looking at real solutions that will serve our communities, our economy and our families.”

Immigrant rights advocates across the state gathered last Friday to hold a candle light vigil and join hands to support the families that were separated by the raids.

“This tragedy is not about ‘identity theft’ or ‘criminal activity’ as the U.S. ICE contends,” wrote The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition in a prepared statement to announce the vigil. “It is about women and men working to feed their families and provide for a better life.”

They've got it wrong. Again. It is about American men and women being given the first chance to work to feed their families and provide a better life for them. When all the Americans who want these jobs have had a chance to fill the open positions, if more workers are still needed, then we'll talk.

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