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Huerta discusses diversity at College

Nikki Taylor | Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers and one of the leaders of the labor movement of the 20th century, spoke twice at Saint Mary’s yesterday addressing the issues of a woman’s role in social change and immigration reform.

Immigration reform is a hot issue, especially in this election year, Huerta said.

“Unless you’re Native American, we all came from somewhere,” she said, telling everyone in the audience that they are diverse.

Huerta said there are many important jobs that potentially undocumented immigrants have in the United States. They pick our crops, watch our children, take care of our elderly, cook our food and clean our buildings. They come here to do these jobs, because there are no opportunities for them in their own countries, Huerta said.

“Nobody wants to leave their home to come here,” she said. “They only do it out of sheer necessity.”

This necessity, Huerta said, is partially America’s fault.

Free trade with Mexico is wreaking havoc on Mexican small business owners in what Huerta called “economic colonization.”

For example, America sells government subsidized corn in Mexico, which is cheaper than the corn being sold and grown by the small Mexican farmers. The Mexican farmers are then put out of business. They then come to the US to work on our farms, Huerta said. Similarly the Wal-Mart Corporation has expanded to Mexico and is having the same effect on small business owners, Huerta said.

Huerta said she feels there should be legislation making it easier for the undocumented people already in the country to become legal citizens.

Undocumented people add billions of dollars to our economy, she said. She does not believe in deportation, as most of the people deported are active and live like any other citizen.

“These are people who have been here for fifteen years and their kids are in school, and they get a knock on the door at 2 a.m. and say ‘sorry, you have to leave,'” Huerta said.

As far as the proposed building of a wall on the Mexican border, Huerta also had a negative opinion.

“We’re against walls, right? Didn’t we want to bring down the Berlin Wall? We want to put one between our biggest trading partner?” Huerta questioned.

She is also unhappy with the fact that most of the anti-immigration attention is being put on Latinos.

“There are undocumented Eastern Europeans, but no one cares,” Huerta said. “They are white. [People are] against people who are brown.”

Huerta called on the audience and all people to take a stand and to be proactive.

She suggested calling or sending postcards to state and local representatives asking them to be sensitive on the issue of immigration and to realize that the legislation effects peoples lives.

“You have to think about your years and what you can do to make this world a better place,” Huerta said. “If we don’t do it, nobody’s going to do it for us. We have to use our power.”