In recent years rabid open border advocates and Leftist politicians have readily invoked the image and mythology of Cesar Chavez, the leader of the farm labor rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s and the co-founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW), to push their agenda.
Unfortunately, they have done so by pushing a distorted and revisionist history of the activism of the Yuma, Arizona, native to further their goals of unlimited immigration and importation of cheap labor.
For example, two years after creating a monument to Chavez, President Obama proclaimed March 31, 2014 as Cesar Chavez Day and called for people to remembering his legacy in pushing “to fix a broken immigration system.”
I will not let bigots co-opt Cesar Chavez’s Birthday.
Republicans have been blocking my resolution to honor Chavez’s bday for 9 years, but I’m pushing on and introducing it again this week. pic.twitter.com/aBa4IsNhM8
— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) March 21, 2018
It is an injustice to history to ignore an important part of the legacy of Chavez and the union which he led. His activism in favor of immigration enforcement bears directly on the current immigration debate.
For example, it was during an October 1, 1969 hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee that Chavez criticized the use of the 72-hour pass by illegal immigrants and their disrespect for U.S. immigration law.
“It is a significant problem in that it facilitates the entry of the illegals who can apply at the American consulate, get a 72 hour pass, and then they moment they get into the country disregard the pass, the restrictions on the pass which limit their travel and also the time period.”
The onetime migrant worker further noted to the members that legislation might help, but would fail to address the “other problem” with the easy access to green cards.
While today’s open border advocates decry the notion of E-verify, Chavez spoke to the problems not having the ability to verify was creating.
“This is a very difficult problem in terms of properly policing and discouraging employment of strike-breakers, the wetbacks. There has never been any case that we know of brought by the government against the employers because of the recruitment and hiring of these people.”
Nor would Chavez be in the same city, much less camp, as those lawmakers who slander border control agents and tougher enforcement measures.
“I would like to remind the Congressmen present that in the last week and a half we have seen how effective the Border Patrol can be when they want to stop marijuana from being imported into the country. It seems to me it would be a lot less difficult to stop human beings coming across than to stop the weed coming across. It can be done.”
Little had changed about enforcement of immigration law – or about Chavez’s view of illegal immigration when he testified the Senate in 1979.
“For so many years we have been involved in agricultural strikes; organizing almost 30 years as a worker, as an organizer, and as president of the union–and for all these almost 30 years it is apparent that when the farm workers strike and their strike is successful, the employers go to Mexico and have unlimited, unrestricted use of illegal alien strikebreakers to break the strike,” Chavez told senators.
“And, for over 30 years, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has looked the other way and assisted in the strikebreaking,” he said.
That same year, a New York Times article addressed the “many reports of alleged brutality against aliens by the U.F.W.” that were appearing in Mexican papers, but not by American news outlets.
Travis Yancy, the sheriff of Yuma County, said the union had established a 100-mile-long “wet line” of tents set up to prevent illegal aliens from crossing the border and even bribed Mexican officials not to interfere.
When the allegations were raised with Chavez, he acknowledged: “We had a ‘wet line;’ it cost us a lot of money, and we stopped a lot of illegals,” the paper noted.
If Cesar Chavez Day is to have any meaning, there must be a fair and accurate account of his views.