Stephen Colbert is Good People

From Colbert’s Congressional testimony:

Good morning. My name is Stephen Colbert: television personality, comedian and resident of New York. I would like to thank the committee and its members for their time today and their open minds as I present my statement for the record.

In July of 2010—in the midst of Arizona’s immigration firestorm—I welcomed Arturo Rodriguez, president of United Farm Workers of America, as a guest on my television show to discuss the impact on harvests in California’s Central Valley. During our interview and subsequent conversation, I learned of his “Take Our Jobs” campaign; offering unemployed Americans farm work, providing necessary training and addressing the chronic and endemic shortage of agriculture laborers across the country. While an enthusiastic endeavor, the project recruited a mere three participants. As a comedian and satirist, the temptation of subjecting my character to manual labor proved impossible to resist. I offered to be the fourth.

Joined by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren—longtime advocate for farmworkers’ rights—I traveled to Upstate New York, where I spent 10 hours picking beans, packing corn and learning about the stark reality facing American farms and farmers. I learned that many farms are closing, growers are planting less or switching to other crops, and the production of fresh foods and vegetables is moving abroad. I learned that American farmers have moved at least 84,155 acres of production and 22,285 jobs to Mexico, and that between 2007 and 2008, 1.56 million acres of U.S. farmland were shut down; 1.56 million acres is about twice the size of Delaware.

At the request of Congresswoman Lofgren, I am here today to share my experience as an entertainer turned migrant worker and to shed light on what it means to truly take one of the millions of jobs filled by immigrant labor. They say that you truly know a man after you’ve walked a mile in his shoes, and while I have nowhere near the hardships of these struggling immigrants, I have been granted a sliver of insight.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to share my testimony.”

A Must-Read

There is an article today in the local newspaper that I often malign with a certain suffix. This is a news article though that is so good and so competent, that it has caused me to, for now, to drop said suffix. Therefore, you must report directly to The Washington Post to read this article by Edward Schumacher-Matos.

Schumacher-Matos’ article just parses the numbers regarding immigration. He concludes what I’ve been saying for a while, that the fact is that immigration ain’t really that big a problem, that it’s just been fluffed up by “conservatives” to scare the hell out of grandma.

Just the facts, man:

Forget the hyperventilated furor over the new Arizona immigration law and consider this overlooked fact: The number of illegal immigrants getting into the country has slowed to a relative trickle.

And more have left than are coming in. The number of unauthorized immigrants in the country has gone from an estimated high of 12.5 million in 2007 to 10.8 million in this year’s first quarter and is still dropping, according to experts in the Census Bureau, the Department

Despite repeated claims that the federal government “isn’t doing anything,” Schumacher-Matos says that enforcement efforts are significantly up from a decade ago.

Remember: The United States historically has had few immigration controls. In 1979, when as a reporter I snuck across the border with a group of Mexicans, there was a laughably small force of fewer than 2,000 Border Patrol agents covering the 2,000-mile frontier with Mexico.

Today, the Border Patrol is 20,000 strong, supplemented by high-tech gadgetry and hundreds of miles of barriers. The Pew Hispanic Center reports that the number of Mexicans who managed to get through in the year ending in March 2009 was 175,000, the lowest number since 1970 and down from roughly 650,000 in 2005. The Border Patrol reports that apprehensions, a rough measure of traffic, were down nearly 70 percent last year from 2000.

So, hi. Can we please start talking about like, a real problem in these US of A for a change? Is the Bay Area ready for The Big One? Are our chemical plants well-secured? And would they please stop mowing those god-damned highway medians for chrissake?