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Stephen Colbert Seeking to Prove Americans Won’t Take Jobs Held by Illegals

The comedian is out to explode the myth that the unemployed will leap at the chance to work the scut jobs currently being done by illegal immigrants.

by
Ruben Navarrette Jr.

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July 9, 2010 - 12:00 am
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Opponents of illegal immigration insist that employers want cheap labor. But what if all employers really want is available and reliable labor? That means illegal immigrants.

Every month, I hear from at least a dozen employers — construction site supervisors, farmers and ranchers, restaurant owners and managers, etc. — who tell me that they couldn’t survive without illegal immigrant workers. It’s not because, as some on the right suggest, these employers would have to pay more if Americans did those jobs. It’s because homegrown workers just aren’t going to show up and take those jobs, no matter what the jobs pay.

To prove it, the United Farm Workers — with the help of comedian Stephen Colbert — are inviting unemployed Americans, the very people who you’d think would be most eager to do even distasteful work for a paycheck, to take jobs away from farm workers. The unemployed are urged to apply for the thousands of agricultural jobs being posted with state agencies as harvest season begins.

The offer is also open to any anti-immigrant Washington pundits who’d like to get closer the subject matter on which they so freely opine. Applicants can fill out an online form and sign up for training and job placement at www.takeourjobs.org.

Not everybody at once. Don’t push. Plenty of opportunity for everyone.

To draw attention to the effort, and push for comprehensive immigration reform, Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report featured the “Take Our Jobs” campaign on the July 8 episode.

As someone who grew up in farm country, and who spent his first summer home from college in the Ivy League lugging 30 pound boxes of peaches and plums in a packinghouse, I love the idea.

A few years ago, I saw a strawberry farmer interviewed on CNN. He said that, in 30 years of growing strawberries near Oxnard, CA, a native-born American had never approached him and asked for a job picking strawberries. Not once.

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