20 The Texas Observer Braceros legal slaves’ 20% on books Titles listed below, and all others stocked by the Texas Observer Bookstore, are offered to Observer subscribers at a 20% discount. There is no additional charge for postage, provided payment is included with your order. Amoiints shown represent the 20% discounted price, plus the 5% sales tax. Paperback books are indicated by an asterisk. return this list with your name, address, and, if possible, your remittance. THE POLITICS OF WORLD HUNGER/Simon $ 7.52 MORTGAGE ON AMERICA Downie $ 6.68 CHICANO POWER: THE EMERGENCE OF MEXICAN AMERICA/ Castro $ 8.36 paperback edition $ 3.32* THE LAST RUNNING/Graves $ 7.98 THE GREAT WALL STREET SCANDAL/Dirks & Gross $ 7.52 FACING THE LIONS/Wicker $ 1.47* A GRINGO MANUAL ON HOW TO HANDLE MEXICANS/ J. A. Gutierrez $ 2.10* CUSTER DIED FOR YOUR SINS Deloria $ 1.05* THE C.I.A. AND THE CULT OF INTELLIGENCE/Marchetti & Marks $ 7.52 CHICANO REVOLT IN A TEXAS TOWN/Shockley $ 8.36 paperback edition $ 3.32* ACLU HANDBOOKS ON THE RIGHTS OF: SUSPECTS/Rosengart $ .80* TEACHERS/Rubin $ .80* THE POOR/Law $ .80* WOMEN/Ross $ 1.05* ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN Bernstein & Woodward $ 7.52 THE I.F. STONE’S WEEKLY READER/Middleton, ed $ 6.68 SUE THE B*ST*RDS: HOW TO GET EVEN in small claims court/Matthews . $ 2.48* ALISTAIR COOKE’S AMERICA .. $12.60 LINCOLN STEFFENS/Kaplan $ 8.40 OUR INVADED UNIVERSITIES Dugger $12.50 WORKING/Terkel $ 8.40 THE CLOSING CIRCLE Commoner $ 1.64* THE OLD MAN AND LESSER MORTALS/King $ 7.52 SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL: ECONOMICS AS IF PEOPLE MATTERED/ Schumacher $ 3.15* THE SATURDAY NIGHT SPECIAL Sherrill $ 7.52 THE POLITICS OF OIL/Engler . $ 3.32* \(Non-Texas addresses exempt from THE TEXAS OBSERVER BOOKSTORE 600 W. 7, Austin, Texas 78701 Some issues back, an article by Ronnie Dugger entitled “Our Peculiar Migration,” appeared in the Observations section of your magazine \(See Obs., article dealt with the problem of the massive importation of illegal workers for use as farmworkers across the Southwest. Mr. Dugger made a number of what we regard as drastic mistakes, and events now make it imperative that we comment. The most astounding mistake that he made, both from a moral and an historical point of view, was his unqualified endorsement of the old bracero system as a program “designed to let some Mexicans improve their lot by coming to work on U.S. farms legally at regulated wages and with other benefits that also protected American workers from dirt cheap and victimized competition . .” THE BRACERO program, or Public Law 78, was not designed for any such humanitarian purposes. Public Law 78, which was in effect from 1944-64, was passed and defended first, foremost and solely for the purpose of providing the giant corporate growers ,of the Southwest with a prime source of cheap labor in the form of hundreds of thousands of Mexican nationals. Long after the supposed “labor shortage” in agriculture caused by World War II was over, the number of braceros imported by the growers grew annually. As Peter Matthiessen, author of Sal Si Puedes, writes, “The lobbyists for the growers argued successfully that Americans would not do the hard stoop labor required in harvesting cotton, sugar beets, and other crops; hence the need for the extension of the bracero program. Everyone conveniently forgot that the white fruit tramps of the Thirties had done plenty of stoop labor, and that domestic workers of all colors would be available to the farms if working conditions were improved. But the Mexicans, whose poverty was desperate, worked long days for pay as low as 60 cents an hour and were used to undermine all efforts of domestic workers to hold out for better treatment; by 1959, an estimated four hundred thousand foreign workers were obtaining work in an America where millions were unemployed.” From my own experience, I can remember instance after instance of being told, “We’re not hiring,” only to find that the same ranch I had gone to was petitioning the Labor Department for braceros because of a “labor shortage.” Where, Mr. Dugger, is your memory of this oppression? And where is your memory of the struggle waged in the Fifties and Sixties by the church, labor, and liberals to stop the bracero program? Perhaps you need to Communication be reminded that the most enthusiastic defender of the program during the 1964 Senate battle to kill it was Republican Presidential nominee Barry Goldwater. \(The Goldwater family owns an Arizona ranch where farmworkers are currently on before your time. Unionization of farmworkers is impossible while such a program exists. A better life for farmworkers is impossible without unionization and the right to self-determination. These points need to be made, because now from Washington and from Mexico City comes the word that Presidents Ford and Echeverrla are planning to reinstate the bracero program by joint executive order. Rumors are that the orders will be issued after a meeting of the two Presidents in Brownsville, Tex., in mid-November. For the giant corporate growers like Tenneco, Dow Chemical, the Southern Pacific Railroad, and others, this will signal a glorious return to the good old days of a totally controlled work force in the fields. For President Echeverrfa, the emigration of hundreds of thousands of young, hungry males will provide a welcome safety valve in a society where demands for social change are becoming stronger and stronger. The same coalition that fought the old Public Law 78, the church, labor, and liberals, must be reunited, stronger this time, to prevent this “executive action.” We would like to count on the help of the Observer and its readers in this struggle. A good first step would be if Dugger would have some public second thoughts about the humane nature of the bracero system. Another good step would be if the Observer and Dugger would reexamine the Rodino Bill, which was uncritically endorsed in the article. THERE ARE some things to be said in favor of the Rodino Bill. The main one, praised by both Dugger and the Texas Good Neighbor Commission, is that it establishes the legal precedent of making the employer of illegal workers liable in court instead of the employee, which is presently the case. The Rodino Bill has two major failings, however, and these failings make it invalid as a piece of social legislation. One failing is that it is racist and discriminatory. The other is that it is impractical and unenforceable. The bill is racist because it leaves intact the existing structure of immigration
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