Ramón Del Castillo, PhD
Senator John Hickenlooper’s recent non-binding budget amendment vote against doling out stimulus funds to undocumented immigrants doesn’t cut the mustard with Latino communities. It has damaged trust levels for those who supported his bid for U.S. Senator, at a time when he was struggling. Incidentally, there are also farmworkers who are U.S. citizens that are treated with the same disdain as their brothers and sisters south of the border. Supporters are wondering what to expect in the future.
Hickenlooper purports to be a Democrat, but his vote bears a resemblance to an ultraconservative Republican. Thanks to President’s Biden’s support for farm workers, Hickenlooper’s vote became nil, but it is still on public record and could haunt him later on. He broke his promise to work with the many communities that support undocumented immigrants. He broke palabra.
His vote leaves community members wondering if the remainder of his 4-year tenure is going to be fraught with right wing perspectives on tough public policy issues that have direct impacts on Chicanos and Latinos in the State of Colorado.
At a time, when the establishment has attempted to create good will with Latino communities, degrading and/or discriminating against Latinos destroys what little good will has been established.
Fear has been revived as Latino communities wonder where they stand in this country and what other anti-immigrant initiatives Hickenlooper might support in the near future. Many Latinos do not draw a distinction between undocumented immigrants and Latino citizens. We are all part of La Raza serving our communities with no distinction regarding citizenship. We do not ask for papers. Hickenlooper violated this principle.
With respect to other potential initiatives, where would he stand on providing vaccinations for undocumented immigrant farmworkers who are essential workers? Should undocumented farmworkers be eligible for vaccinations, especially since many cross borders and become essential workers? They pay taxes, build the economy, and pick the crops that feed Americans. Will he attempt to deprive them of being vaccinated? He demonstrated his predictable support for his business mentality, that is, protecting Colorado’s farmers and agricultural businessmen, which also translates into supporting Republicans. Ironically, undocumented farm labor keeps vegetables and fruits on the shelves of grocery stores and restaurants, that without proper protections, could harm innocent Americans and the same businesses whose interests he is trying to protect. On many occasions scrupulous growers have called in la migra on farmworkers, after the crops were picked without paying them what they honestly earned.
Americans are drowning in an abhorrent contradiction—preaching democracy while practicing anti-democratic rhetoric. We need leadership that is willing to stand up for the rights of all Americans will simultaneously changing the social conditions that keep many living in deprivation.
It’s difficult to determine if sins of commission or omission were committed against undocumented immigrants not only by Senator Hickenlooper but also current and past administrations. Sins of commission involve the willful act of doing something that violates God’s commands in Scripture. Sins of omission are those in which we should have done something good, but refused (Wikipedia). It appears that the establishment has committed both.
In the past, sins of commission against undocumented immigrants included depriving them, at times, of the right to work and earn fair wages in order to feed their families. Egregious sins of omission committed against undocumented immigrants include a history of labor exploitation, treating them as fungible commodities, transforming them into pseudo slaves, and depriving them of human rights. Immigration policy has candidly included provisions for the continued exploitation of undocumented immigrants through H-2 workers and guest worker visas; providing jobs to undocumented immigrants; jobs that Americans do not want to do. The most recent inhumane phenomenon was separating children from their families and placing them in cages.
In an interview with Lisa Durán, Executive Director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) and CIRC Action Fund, organizations with similar missions that include supporting struggles that involve all immigrant worker human rights while raising funds to do political work on behalf of undocumented workers stated that the organizations, “Stand for immigrant rights. They are human rights.”
As she further elaborated, “We were deeply disappointed at Senator Hickenlooper’s vote last week. We need Senators who are willing to stand up to the injustices perpetuated by our current immigration policies – not double down on them. Voting to deny economic relief to families who are struggling to put food on their tables, even as many of them are working to put food on others’ is fundamentally wrong and inhumane.
Durán tied in the current pandemic with Senator Hickenlooper’s vote, at a time when América is suffering, with an exclamation that we all need to work together. As she stated, “We are all in this pandemic together, and we won’t lift our nation’s health and our economy out of its current doldrums until we recognize that fact. His actions sent a disturbing message that many families who are struggling with few resources are not worthy of being supported. This is a wrong message. Those families are fundamental to our communities and our economy.”
What seems apparent is that Senator John Hickenlooper needs to revisit the many struggles that Chicano and Latino communities have undergone during, at least, the last century and recommit to supporting those long-lasting battles that need to be resolved. Americans are drowning in an abhorrent contradiction—preaching democracy while practicing anti-democratic rhetoric. Their neighbors are now the new enemies, especially if they are Black, Brown, or Indigenous. We need leadership that is willing to stand up for the rights of all Americans will simultaneously changing the social conditions that keep many living in deprivation.
Dr. Ramón Del Castillo Independent Journalist. © 2-8-2021 Ramón Del Castillo.
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