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Minutemen, grab your hoes and march north

MODEST PROPOSAL

October 16, 2005|Marc Cooper | MARC COOPER is a contributing editor to the Nation and a columnist for L.A. Weekly.

THE LEADERS of the anti-immigration Minutemen have begun another monthlong sweep along the Southwest border, searching for illegal aliens.

But a rugged, mountainous desert border is the toughest place to find large groups of the undocumented. These guys should stow their binoculars, fold up their lawn chairs and head not south but, rather, north to California's lush Central Valley.

All the Minutemen have to do is go up to the flyspeck towns around Fresno or Bakersfield, get up around 4 a.m. and watch the thousands of illegals mustering for a day's work picking, packing or pruning our basic crops.

The illegals have no access to welfare programs, so it's either work or go home. If the Minutemen were smart, they'd trade in their side arms for a pair of gloves and a straw hat and simply take those jobs back from the illegals -- even for a month. Just get out on the highways and offer themselves up to the labor contractors and, boom, our illegal alien problem is over.

What red-blooded American employer wouldn't rather have a reliable, English-speaking, patriotic and military-fit crop picker than an undocumented Mexican from who-knows-where? Because they volunteer their time now, the Minutemen should appreciate making the farm labor standard of approximately $7 an hour (the state's minimum wage is $6.75), nine hours a day with two 10-minute breaks and a half-hour lunch. The state guarantees some drinking water and a porta-potty. And there are no bothersome deductions for healthcare or dues for unions because there is virtually none of either.

There are risks. Earlier this year five immigrant farmworkers died of heat exposure. But the summer's come and gone. And this is the season when the Minutemen can step in and make the difference. Drop your weapons, pick up a hoe and save America.

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