A Colorado crackdown on immigrant labor leaves farmers looking for workers, so the director of prisons offers a solution. Replace immigrant labor with convict labor. Read the report from the Pueblo Chieftan archived below. But first, read the response by Rosalinda Guillen, copied below by permission.–gm
By Rosalinda Guillen
This is a Horror story, it is not make believe and not a conspiracy theory – it is real. With the constant demonizing of immigrants in the United States and attacks on their families and communities this is what we have come to!
In this country’s early history Africans were captured and brutally hauled to what was to become the United States of America. It took a bloody civil war to free the slaves in the U.S. If you thought that is the end of that, no more slavery in this country, think again. Because of legislation passed by the Colorado Legislature it has become a state with such strict and onerous restrictions and requirements for documentation that immigrants (undocumented or otherwise) have chosen to avoid Colorado; hence they now have a severe shortage of workers willing to work on the farms of Colorado.
So, what do Colorado elected leaders propose to do? Why, turn to the prisons where they have plenty of humans who they could put out to work! Instead of the slave ships of old we have the U.S. prison system full of guess who? Latinos, African Americans and other people of color! What civil liberty will be destroyed next? First we get sent to prisons; we know there is racial profiling by local and state police forces and now Homeland Security; this is how many Mexican farm workers and African Americans unjustly end in prison. This is nothing less than legalized slavery.
The immigration laws do not work and have not worked for years, what is needed is a thoughtful long-term examination of alternatives to the current immigration laws including minimizing their impact on our local economies – is slavery the only solution our elected leaders can come up with? This is shameful! Especially in the agricultural system in the U.S. as if things were not already bad enough for farm workers – now we are taken back to pre-Civil War America, we must say NO to this pilot project.
Immigrant workers are an important sector of our society; we must STOP THE I.C.E. RAIDS NOW and thoughtfully examine how the free flow of labor needed in our country can be implemented in a fair and efficient manner. Out of fear and confusion many people are blaming social ills and a reduction of lifestyle on immigrants when in fact it has more to do with unfair trade deals, inefficient immigration policies and political positioning because of the failing war in Iraq.
The food on our tables connects all of us, many hands labor over golden waves of grain, many backs bend to tend seedlings and lift boxes of golden, red , blue and green jewels to feed our families. Those of us whose spirits have been lifted with the thought that growing food for our brothers and sisters is a noble and beneficial act are saddened by the continuing exploitation within our food system.
Friends please take the time to read the article below . . . what can we do to help stop this pilot project now?
ARCHIVE: PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN (Colorado)
February 27, 2007
Inmates to fill the void in farm fields
Pilot program to help farmers replace workers driven off by state’s new immigration laws.
By CHARLES ASHBY
CHIEFTAIN DENVER BUREAU
DENVER – It may not be too long before Pueblo County residents start seeing inmates from state prisons working area farms.
Rep. Dorothy Butcher, D-Pueblo, has managed to work out, at least in principle, a new program that would call on the Colorado Department of Corrections to supply inmates to work area farms.
The new work program would operate under the department’s successful Correctional Industries Program, which helps inmates obtain work while in prison and learn a skill at the same time, DOC Executive Director Ari Zavaras said Monday.
“We have a lot of details to work out, but this probably will start as a pilot program in Pueblo County,” he said. “Depending on how well it works, we’ll see where it will go.”
Zavaras, the newly installed DOC director, said the program fits in with his and Gov. Bill Ritter’s new emphasis on reducing recidivism in state prisons.
Their thinking is that by reducing recidivism, the state can save money on having to build new prisons, which under current growth estimates will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years.
Butcher started the idea with a handful of area farmers who were complaining that new state laws cracking down on illegal immigration and the stringent document rules adopted by the Department of Revenue under Gov. Bill Owens, have left them short-handed in the field.
Immigrant workers, legal or otherwise, are too afraid to come to Colorado because of the state’s tougher immigrant laws, Avondale farmers Joe Pisciotta and Phil Prutch told Zavaras and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in a special meeting that Butcher had arranged.