Kudos to Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert for spotlighting how schizophrenic Americans are when it comes to an unpopular issue — immigration — despite how these much-maligned migrant workers are the linchpin of America’s beloved cheap-food system.
Colbert appeared with United Farm Workers (UFW) President Arturo S. Rodriguez today to testify before Congress for a hearing called “Protecting America’s Harvest” held by the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law.
He testified in character about a day he spent working in the fields, having taken up the UFW on its dare to American citizens “take our jobs.” It was apparently a rough day for the comedian: “Please don’t make me do this again. It is really, really hard … Apparently, even the invisible hand doesn’t want to pick beans,” he told Congress. Watch his testimony:
Although the in-character “Stephen Colbert” explained that he was testifying because he doesn’t “want a tomato picked by a Mexican. I wanted it picked by an American, then sliced by a Guatemalan, then served by a Venezuelan, in a spa where a Chilean gives me a Brazilian,” he later dropped the mask when Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) asked him why he was interested in this issue. In a response that one hopes might give opponents of more sane immigration laws pause, Colbert — who in real life is a practicing Catholic and Sunday School teacher — invoked Matthew 25:40:
I like talking about people who don’t have any power. And it seems like one [sic] of the least powerful people in the U.S. are migrant workers who come and do our work but don’t have any rights as a result, and yet we still invite them to come here and at the same time ask them to leave. And that’s an interesting contradiction to me. “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers” … and these seem like the least of our brothers right now. A lot of people are “least brothers” right now because the economy’s so hard, and I don’t want to take anyone’s hardship away from them or diminish or anything like that, but migrant workers suffer and have no rights.
Watch the serious clip: