Since 2006, 28,000 Mexican citizens have been caught dead in the cross-fire between Mexican army and drug cartels. There have been few if any U.S. citizen casualties north of the border. An untold number of migrants trying to cross our border have died, some by violence others by exposure. The Zetas gang recently executed 72, kidnapped before they could make the border, perhaps because they couldn't raise ransom from poor families further south, but probably because they refused to join in the gang's transporting drugs to the USA. 3, 4 They died violent deaths by resisting being part of this violent business—shot dead by weapons procured in the USA, paid for by profits made in the USA. God bless their strong, nonviolent witness.
Why do the migrants come from Mexico, Central and Latin America to take these risks--long journeys and illegal crossings? Same reason you and I get up every morning to go to work—to make a living for self and family, to make a better world. And in their case, poverty is a most powerful motivator. The gainful employments they may find are our society's leftover farm labor, construction and service jobs. Should we be irate and armed against their efforts, or welcome their contribution. The Statue of Liberty and the Bible recommend open arms.
My experience as a young adult working and living in Capac, MI area migrant camps summers of 1966, 67, 68, was to be kindly received by the farm workers from south Texas. This was a Catholic Church project helping in a small way to organize for social services. They were Mexican American U.S. citizens trying to pursue a livelihood of simple homes in neighborhoods back in Carrizo Springs and Crystal City, TX, by traveling all over the Midwest most of the year, harvesting our crops, putting the food on our tables.
It was a time when "La Causa" -- Cesar Chavez's United Farm Workers Organizing Committee in California --was just becoming known nationally. For the people I lived and picked pickles with [for Aunt Jane's and Weller's of Croswell, MI] in North Camp [W. of the road N. out of Capac towards Yale], it was difficult to envision forming a union for labor rights. They went from Texas to Florida, West & East Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, and back around again, every year, with Minnesota sometimes thrown in. Chasing the crops, keeping family together and fed, cars in running order, and some school for their children, were constant organizing challenges. Still there was interest in the solidarity to bring justice and opportunity, that was preached by Cesar Chavez and the members of his union. To be continued next week.
!Que viva la huelga! [ Long live the strike—the spirit of self-sacrifice for common justice! ] Farmers, factory, construction, and service workers included. In spirit, and on the ground, recognizing all the difficulties of implementation.
!Happy Labor Day!