Do you know someone unemployed, under-employed, at risk of losing their house and relying on the food bank to keep their family fed? You probably do. They may even live next door or closer. These are among the growing majority of people vulnerable to wanting someone to blame. The Madoff’s of the world are far away.
So who should we get mad at?
In Columbia County, Oregon we are now significantly above the very high unemployment rate of 12.1 % for the state. If you open this week’s Time Magazine (dated April 20th, with a US Soldier in Afghanistan on the cover) starting on page 20 you’ll see a story that features St Helen’s, Oregon – a town filled with folks struggling to maintain their lives and willing to believe that if undocumented immigrants were gone maybe their house wouldn’t be foreclosed on and maybe Boise-Cascade would not have shut the mill.
And so 57% of our community voted last Fall for the anti-immigrant ballot measure that would have fined employers $10,000 if they hired an undocumented worker. A lot of reasonable people did what seemed reasonable to them. If only life was so simple. Now the courts ruled today that the measure is too flawed to become law. (Read the press release)
Let’s hear it for the courts and those checks and balances. But let’s also hear all the frustrated people that voted for some solution to their very dire woes.
The challenge for ROP, CCCHD and everyone in Columbia County is to get beyond Lou Dobbs’ solutions for the world (division and more division all fueled by fear.) Can we bring folks together around worker’s rights? Can we agree that we do need enforcement at work sites, that we have those laws now (thank you, unions) but we need the will to fund the agencies charged with employment laws. And that means taxes and yes, big corporations could pay those taxes. And can we stop writing laws that target mom and pop 3 person shops but name the real worker rights problem? And can we understand that our current immigration laws are so dated and flawed that there are no winners, only losers, and that now is a time to demand Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
That is what we are trying to do – join a May Day rally
close to you and speak up for worker’s rights -a unifying concept. And be grateful for the courts.