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INS Ruling on Race Track Jobs

January 21, 1986

Harold Ezell, regional commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, has fallen victim of his own narrow-mindedness. On approving the issuance of work visas for race track jobs (Times, Jan. 14), he has legally recognized the need of the undocumented worker in this nation.

In the recent past Ezell has stated passionately his determination to deport the illegal alien. This, he claims, will open jobs for American citizens. It is ironic that only a few weeks later he turns around and grants approval for illegals to take American jobs.

The INS decision to grant such visas reflects the inability of the federal government to deal realistically with the illegal alien "problem." That Ezell finds himself in such a dilemma, trumpeting himself as a savior of jobs for Americans one minute and "betraying" them the next, is understandable: California has the largest concentration of illegal aliens in the country.

It is safe to say that a good deal of California's economy depends on the labor of the undocumented worker. In fact, much of the nation's economy is dependent on our cheap labor. Yet many Americans stubbornly refuse to accept this.

Society does benefit as a whole. As consumers they benefit. Hard-nose immigration policy advocates should stop to think, when they sit at their tables for dinner, about how those fresh vegetables got to their tables. I wonder if they would cost the same if it weren't for the illegal alien and a few legal migrant workers who harvest them.

I worked in the potato fields of Idaho for several seasons. I don't remember an American standing next to me sorting out the dry weeds, rocks and dirt on those cold evenings many times until midnight. The American worker was usually behind the steering wheel of trucks or riding the tractors that pulled the combine machines. He was "too good" to do that kind of manual labor. I did back-breaking work in the sugar beet fields of Wyoming and Nebraska. I also don't remember an American bending down with a hoe or straightening up with an excruciating pain in his lower back. I picked lettuce, weeded and irrigated cotton fields in the baking sun of Arizona. I never saw an American citizen working next to me. My fellow workers were illegals like myself from Mexico.

Some Americans would argue citizens could not compete with our "cheap labor." The fact is most Americans do not want to do farm work. And most American farmers prefer the undocumented worker.



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