“missing the point.” Another argued that “no effort to improve El Paso’s lot would succeed without a companion effort to improve Juarez.” Businessmen testified that Latin women possess “an inimitable dexterity that is necessary in the needle trade.” Justification for hiring Mexicans in El Paso’s garment industry was based on the contention that they are “peculiarly adapted to the garment industry.” Americans of Mexican descent often were referred to as “our people” by the Anglo business leaders. A presentation by the El Paso Chamber of Commerce had a touch of the promotional about it, complete with pamphlets extolling the virtues of El Paso. At one point in the presentation one of these virtues was identified as the availability of cheap labor. The tenor of the business community’s case was that “the only solution to the problems of the underprivileged in the El Pso area and probably along the entire US-Mexico border is to upgrade skills and to create job opportunities.” A number of witnesses urged deliberation and gradualism, arguing that “economics alone must not be the sole concern” of the commission, because the problem deals “with human lives, with basic human needs” that encompass the “entire sociological spectrum.” The Rev. Robert Getz, a young priest from Fabens, Texas, implored the commission not to disrupt what has become a “way of life,” the same words used at the hearing by William P. Hughes, US consul general in Juarez. Dr. Melvin P. Straus, professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso, suggested “the need for more extensive research before any legislation, or at least legislation meant for long duration, is recommended by this commission.” BUT MOST OF the labor leaders testifying before the commission deplored the necessity for more surveys, studies, and hearings. “You know our problems,” one of them said. “Give us some relief to once and for all get rid of this very unfair competition to our workers.” Henry Munoz, Jr., equal opportunity director of the Texas AFL-CIO, testified that “the alien commuter [green card] law is ‘an international racket’ because workers who are citizens of the United States in border towns are treated worse now than they were 30 years ago.” He called the US-Mexico border the “Mexican-Dixon line,” arguing that “many employers in Texas prefer commuters to citizen workers because the commuter is more easily exploited.” Munoz went on to identify the primary cause of unemployment and underemployment as the unfair labor competition created by the green card commuters. He urged that “the Department of Labor issue a regulation for a minimum wage law of $1.25 to be applicable to green-card holders and commuters,” as a step toward solving the delicate international problem. Another step he recommended was that unfair exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Child Labor Laws “should be removed so that all workers from both sides of the Rio Grande are accorded the safeguards of the laws.” Above all, he pointed out, the Texas AFL-CIO is not trying to shut down the Texas border. It is simply opposed to runaway plants, undercutting US labor standards, and the twin-plant concept of American companies establishing plants on the Mexican side of the border, using low wage labor to assemble US semi-finished goods for the American market. The Texas AFL-CIO has adopted a resolution repudiating the green card system. In his testimony before the commission, David North, executive director of the Inter-Agency Committee on Mexican American Affairs, insisted that “some type of control needs to be installed since the history of this system makes it immensely clear that the normal labor market forces will never cause a rise in wages and working conditions along the USMexican border.:’ And in the closing remarks of his testimony, J. D. Givens, secretary-treasurer of the El Paso central labor union, restated the position of the members of the AFL-CIO in El Paso: “If aliens are working in this country they should be required to live here.” The Mexican government has expressed its opposition to any modification of the present status of the green card commuters. Mexican Foreign Secretary Antonio Carillo Flores contends that the green card commuters have “acquired rights” and that any change of their status would be a violation of those rights. But the nature of those rights remains to be defined. And what of the rights of the American worker? The green card dilemma invites no easy resolution, but it seems clear something must be done. One witness put it: “The way we stand now, we just keep looking away to see if the problem ceases to exist.” The problem will not go away; it can only get worse. 0 The Riot Commission Speaks Austin It was a series of racial incidents which precipitated the disorder at Texas Southern University last May [Obs., June 9-23], according to the US Riot Commission Report released March 2. “We found that violence was generated by an increasingly disturbed social atmosphere, in which typically not one but a series of incidents occurred over a period of weeks or months prior to the outbreak of disorders,” the report said. “Most cities had three or more such incidents; Houston had ten over a five-month period. “These earlier or prior incidents were linked in the minds of many Negroes to the pre-existing reservoir of underlying grievances. With each such incident, frustration and tension grew until at some point a final incident, often similar to the incidents preceding it, occurred and was followed almost immediately by violence.” The commission gave Houston as a typical example of alleged discriminatory administration of justice, involving a case a month and a half before the TSU dis turbance: “Three civil rights advocates were arrested for leading a protest and for their participation in organizing a boycott of classes at the predominantly Negro Texas Southern University. “Bond was set at $25,000 each. The court refused for several days to reduce bond, even though TSU officials dropped the charges which they had originally pressed.” The report gave a one-page account of the TSU disturbance in which a policeman was killed and several persons injured. “The origin of the shot that killed the officer was not determined,” it said. The commission explained it did not make a thorough study of the economic factors in the Negro communities in Houston, Jackson, Miss., and Nashville, Tenn., “because their disturbances were more directly campus-related than cityrelated.” Charles Culhane of the Houston Post’s Washington bureau said a member of the commission who asked not to be identified by name gave another reason why the group did not delve into the Houston situation. “We didn’t want to go too deeply into Houston and some of those other cities because Congress was treading over that ground with heavy boots at the time we were making our study,” the Post reported. The commission member was referring to the Senate investigating committee’s riot hearings. The complete text of the 250,000 word report has been printed in paperback by Bantam and is available in many bookstores for $1.25. THE COMMISSION report did not set lightly with a majority of state and city leaders. Gov . John Connally pshawed the commission’s charge that “white racism” was a fundamental cause of rioting last spring and summer. “We have problems and we have inequities in this country,” Connally said. “But to say that all our problems are the direct result of racism is a very grave mistake. Any such conclusion could spell more severe trouble for us in the future.” The governor added, “I’m hopeful that [the re March 15, 1968 7
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