percent are undocumented. In addition, the American Friends Service Committee provides services for employees at maquiladoras, assembly plants on the border often owned by U.S. Corporations using low-paid, mostly female, Mexican labor. The Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers organize people with or without documents, “Workers are workers regardless of nationality,” said Jesus Moya, member of the International Union of Agriculture and Industrial Workers. Moya said the IUAIW has filed lawsuits against several agricultural companies for violations of minimum wage standards, breach of contract, failure to disclose the conditions of employment, and substandard housing. He said one grower provided the workers with a motel-like structure crawling with rats, spiders, ants, and worms, with only one toilet for 40 families. Because employer sanctions in the Simpson-Mazzoli proposals would apply to unions, too, organizing undocumented workers will become yet another. underground activity if that legislation becomes law. “It is like erecting a wall,” Moya said. “It will just divide workers. It gives the employers one more chance to exploit people, since the employer can say, ‘Look, I’m taking a big chance hiring you, so you have to accept this lower wage.’ ” Jim Harrington said many undocumented people could legally receive work papers; but they don’t know they can or haven’t tried. When the INS detains an, undocumented worker, that person has little chance to seek defense. The “illegal alien” tag itself brings into question the notion that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty. The “illegal” immigrants are, in fact, the quiet victims of some of the most heinous crimes in this country. Rarely does the Justice Department step in and defend them, as it did in the recent slavery case. To compound matters, the Reagan Administration recently prohibited Legal Aid services for people who aren’t U.S. citizens. The undocumented workers must now turn to private attorneys. Few can afford to do that. “Reagan stacked the legal services board with appointments of people who are fundamentally opposed to helping the poor,” said Bill Beardall, litigation director for the farmworkers division of Texas Rural Legal Aid. The result, he said, is that “aliens are relegated to an underclass in the market.” It launched an “open season” on undocumented workers. What, for example, is an undocumented worker to do when an employer refuses to pay the minimum wage or refuses to pay at all? Who can these people contact when they’re held against their will? Little matter that the national labor laws are supposed to protect all laborers, documented or not. The undocumented worker has no recourse when the laws are violated. Also, because an employer can easily hire and exploit undocumented workers, an incentive is created to hire them instead of U.S. citizens. “The effect of making them ineligible for legal services,” Beardall said, “is to make them totally and absolutely vulnerable,” driving them further into the economy’s underground sector. The Simpson-Mazzoli bill, he said, would make the current, informal system of exploitation a formal, legal one. DIALOGUE Abortion a Personal Issue I must take exception to Mr. Corbett’s letter of March 9th, criticizing the twopage ad placed in the January 27th issue of the Texas Observer commemorating the 1 1 th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade. In 1973, the Supreme Court found that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is so profoundly personal that it merits protection from unwarranted government intrusion under the privacy clause of the U.S. Constitution. The decision of whether or not to have an abortion is one that only the parties to the pregnancy can make. Abortion is neither a liberal nor a conservative issue. It is a personal issue. It has become a political issue because a small but very vocal segment of our society has taken it upon themselves to impose their religious perspective on all of us. Abortion is a controversial issue only because the relative few believe they can make universal determinations about what is right and wrong for everyone. As the coordinator of the effort to place this timely advertisement, I make no apologies for the inclusion of abortion providers. They made their contribution to finance this ad, as did everyone else who was listed. The people who work in abortion clinics are not tawdry capitalists. Abortion is a legal medical procedure. It is one of the only medical procedures that has not risen astronomically in cost, although standards of care and sophistication of procedures have risen significantly since the early 1970s. Abortion clinics serve a legitimate public interest in assuring that women have access to safe and affordable quality care. They are not sinister. They are not evil. They are constantly subjected to harassment and physical threats for performing a frequently requested and perfectly legal medical service. No one involved with the pro-choice movement advocates abortion not even providers. We encourge everyone to evaluate their situation and circumstances and self-determine what the best possible outcome for their personal lives will be. We, unlike our opponents, believe that there is room in America for divergent opinion. We work diligently to protect everyone’s choice. Jan Friese, Executive Director, Texas Abortion Rights Action League, Austin. Engineeering, McMurtry Defended Mr. James Yaeger’s letter published in your March 23rd edition is a perfect example of stereotyping based on wishful thinking. Since when does an “engineering school” present, as Rice University did several years back,. Euripides’ Bacchae in its original Greek? It would be interesting to know if the “engineering schools” in the Tacoma Park area have presented anything similar. It appears that neither Mr. Yaeger nor the reviewer have read the novel Terms of Endearment. Half of the book deals with the loves, lives and and deaths of the maid and her blue collar companions. And best of all there was no cutesy astronaut lurching around. Yes the movie was mawkish and drawn-out. But that can hardly be attributed to “. . . some serious flaws as a creative writer \(in Mr. McMurtry’s Sara Simon, Houston. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15
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