We Fought A War Over This Issue - End Modern Day Slavery In America
“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. “
Mississippi, seceding from the Union, 1861
You have to give the state of Mississippi credit for honesty. They laid it on the line when they decided to join the Confederacy. We need slaves to do the hard, nasty, brutal work of growing cotton. That’s how we make money, and we sure as hell aren’t going to do that work ourselves.
You probably thought that kind of thinking was banished from American political life in 1865 when Lee surrendered at Appomattox. You were wrong.
The House of Representatives is now considering the passage of something called the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The bill would allow illegal aliens to gain amnesty by working in the agricultural sector. It is praised by supporters as being necessary to provide a “reliable and legal workforce for our farms and ranches.”
Not discussed are the conditions under which these illegal aliens would work.
Recently the owners of Los Villatoros Harvesting (LVH) plead guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit forced labor. That means they were enslaving people. LVH brought in Mexican workers under the existing H-2A temporary worker program to work in the U.S. LVH charged these workers massive fees. Then they kept the workers under threat of bodily harm working away for virtually no pay and forced them to repay the massive sums they had been charged to get here.
Even the enslavers of the 1800’s never thought of making slaves pay to be brought here in bondage.
LVH is not an aberration. This is the way the system works. Big corporations go to Mexico and recruit workers. They bring them here. Then these corporations trap the workers under a burden of debt, from which they can never escape. They abuse them. They subject them to horrific working conditions.
Migrants live in crowded, filthy conditions. The work day begins at 3 or 4 am. It ends 12 hours later after a fifteen-minute lunch break. Pay, when it is given at all, is typically a little over $100 a week.
Workers are moved from one farm or enterprise to another on no notice. They have no say in the matter. Sometimes they are simply not paid at all.
And, these modern-day slaves are never free. There is no end to their term of bondage.
A federal investigation in 2021 found migrants brought here and promised $12 an hour to dig onions. Instead, they were ordered to dig onions with their bare hands and paid 20 cents a bucket. While they dug, men with guns stood guard over them and forced them to keep working. At least two of these migrants died. Several were repeatedly raped.
The official Department of Justice announcement of indictments in the case contained these details.
“Exploitation of the workers included being required to dig onions with their bare hands, paid 20 cents for each bucket harvested, and threatened with guns and violence to keep them in line. The workers were held in cramped, unsanitary quarters and fenced work camps with little or no food, limited plumbing and without safe water. The conspirators are accused of raping, kidnapping and threatening or attempting to kill some of the workers or their families, and in many cases sold or traded the workers to other conspirators. At least two of the workers died as a result of workplace conditions. “
“The conspirators are alleged to have reaped more than $200 million from the illegal scheme, laundering the funds through cash purchases of land, homes, vehicles, and businesses; through cash purchases of cashier’s checks; and by funneling millions of dollars through a casino.”
“The American dream is a powerful attraction for destitute and desperate people across the globe, and where there is need, there is greed from those who will attempt to exploit these willing workers for their own obscene profits,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “Thanks to outstanding work from our law enforcement partners, Operation Blooming Onion frees more than 100 individuals from the shackles of modern-day slavery and will hold accountable those who put them in chains.”
Congressman Dan Newhouse, a Republican from Washington State, thinks the only problem with this system is it’s not providing enough bodies apparently. He is pushing the Farm Workforce Modernization Act to change that. He described the situation this way at a recent press conference.
“I’m a farmer myself, and I can tell you that it is truly a struggle to find workers. Without an adequate workforce, our crops will go unharvested, and our already-delicate food supply chain is placed further at risk.”
“I’m a farmer myself, and I can tell you that it is truly a struggle to find workers. Without an adequate workforce, our crops will go unharvested, and our already-delicate food supply chain is placed further at risk.”“
“So, to keep our families fed and our country running, many of our producers rely on the H-2A program for labor, but the program is burdensome and the application process doesn’t work for farmers or farmworkers.”
“The legislation streamlines the existing H-2A program and establishes a new employment- and merit-based program to ensure that not only are agriculture workers in the United States legally, but that they remain law-abiding and continue to contribute to our farms, ranches, local communities, and economies.”
“By ensuring a legal and reliable agricultural workforce, we can secure our food supply, strengthening our national security and averting disaster, reduce food costs for all Americans, and raise wages and reduce unemployment for ALL American workers by creating value-added, upstream jobs for Americans.”
Translation: You really can’t expect us to pay Americans to do this kind of work. We need people we can control and will work for next to nothing. We need more slaves.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans fought and died in the Civil War to end slavery and give meaning to the words “All men are created equal.” We owe it to them and everyone who has ever fought for freedom and equality in this country to end this horrifying practice of modern-day slavery.
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