Mexico and America: Guilty of Peonage
In a recent edition of Glenn Beck’s Fusion Magazine, Stu Burguiere, suggested that illegal immigrants “are taking jobs that are illegal to even offer in America.” So, let’s expand on Stu Burguiere’s thought and imagine a classified advertisement (in Spanish) that describes the kind of jobs actually being taken by today’s illegal-immigrant agricultural workers:
WANTED: Agricultural workers. Pay: $2.00 per hour. Hours: From sunrise to sundown. Benefits: Free transportation from town to the work site. Free water. 30-minute lunch break. No educational or language requirements. No government paperwork. Sundays off. No application hassles. Monday through Saturday, report to Mr. Mann at 5:00 a.m at the shape-up area at the east edge of town.
Can you imagine what would happen to Mr. Mann if he put that advertisement in a newspaper? Every government agency you can imagine would be hunting down Mr. Mann, competing to be the first to throw his pale derrière in jail.
But before we heap all the blame on those who entice illegal immigrants to pick the fruits and vegetables that come so relatively cheaply to our tables, let’s make a comparison with the drug trade. If a certain segment of Americans did not demand to have cocaine, marijuana, heroin, etc., the suppliers to our south and other parts of the world, would have no reason to produce them.
Historically, our major political parties have responded to public demand for cheap food by socializing food costs via tax subsidies to the agricultural industry. But, ever since the disastrous 1986 attempt at immigration reform, we have, essentially, privatized our immigration policy by turning it over to fruit and vegetable growers who, due to the disastrous economic conditions in Mexico and Central America, are able to employ millions of stoop laborers under conditions of Peonage.
Chapter 77 of Title 18 U.S. Code defines the various forms of Peonage which include: Involuntary servitude, forced labor, trafficking with respect to Peonage, sex trafficking of children in Peonage, and unlawful conduct with respect to the documents of Peons. Persons convicted under Chapter 77 can be locked away for 40 years.
But wait. Don’t the illegal migrant workers “volunteer” to come here? In the sense that making a choice between near starvation at home and wages that are ten times what they can earn in their native Mexican villages, then “volunteer” does not quite fit reality. Incredibly, the remittances sent back to Mexico by Mexicans working illegally in this country are Mexico’s second-largest source of income -- ranking just below oil and just above tourism dollars which, by the way, come mostly from Americans looking for a cheap vacation.
Thus, Mexico is exporting its Peons (used here as a legal term) into the U.S. and then reaping the benefits of what the Peons can earn and send back to Mexico. Obviously, something is terribly wrong in Mexico which, in terms of climate and natural resources, such as oil, ought to be one of the most prosperous countries in this hemisphere.
By contrast, Canada’s climate makes it, in reality, a nation that is about 3,000 miles long and about 300 miles in width. Western Canada is heavily impacted with Asian immigration. Eastern Canada has a huge French population that leans toward separation from Canada. In the middle are the Scots, English, Welch, Irish, Germans and Scandinavians. If any nation could claim to be dysfunctional based on climate, geography and a disparate population, Canada should qualify; however, economic conditions in Canada do not propel a flood of immigrants into this country.
So, the corrupt Mexican government is the first cause of our immigration problems. The second cause is our desire for cheap food which leads to government failure to enforce our borders followed by government failure to enforce our laws against Peonage. As Walt Kelly’s Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Plus the government -- not the people -- of Mexico.
Syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and a former research fellow at the U.S. Military History Institute of the U.S. Army War College. He is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2007. William Hamilton.