Unsurprisingly, the Republicans in the US Senate blocked a resolution honoring late labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez. Why? Because the Republicans wanted to honor Chavez’s anti-immigrant work.
But Republicans blocked it after Democrats refused their demand that they also include in the resolution mention of how Chavez pushed for tighter border security and saw undocumented immigrants as detrimental to U.S. workers.
I mentioned this particular fact about Chavez’s life in the review of movie last week, and it is a part of his life that Republicans have tried to exploit for their own benefit, much like they attempt to co-opt Martin Luther King’s Republican past.
Much like most labor unions, the United Farm Workers were opposed to immigrant labor because of how easy it was to exploit this source of cheap labor, thus making it easier to end the labor movement. While Chavez and the Union wanted fair labor practices and fair pay for what were mostly American citizen workers, it was people like Ronald Reagan and other Republicans who would have none of that and supported strike-breaking in the form of immigrant exploitation. Some things never change, much like the corporations that want to exploit immigrants today in order to avoid benefits like health insurance, equal pay, and simple worker protections. It really is an old Republican strategy of “divide and conquer.”
Ultimately, Cesar Chavez changed course on immigrant rights as the Chicano civil rights movement took on a more global view of labor, civil and human rights. Plus, the Union was in need of membership. Obviously, Republicans have never supported civil and human rights for anyone, much less labor rights.
Frankly, I’m not much into empty resolutions when Congress isn’t getting any real work done. I want public policy, like, I don’t know, immigration reform, equal pay, jobs creation, health care reform/single payer, education funding, stuff like that. But it’s not like the Republicans will ever support anything of value to a majority of this country.