While presenting his recent film “César Chávez: An American Hero” at the White House, Mexican movie maker Diego Luna listened as Barack Obama heaped praise on Chávez as an “‘American hero’ who during the 1960s led a march for the human rights of Latino workers,” as reported by Jorge Calvillo of the Hispanic-centric news portal Latinos Post on March 23, 2014. Yet the hushed story of his history of often bloody violence against illegal aliens was never mentioned, as reported by Ruben Navarrette, Jr. of the San Diego Union-Tribune on March 30, 2005, as well as by Daniel Greenfield of Front Page Magazine on March 21, 2014.
Lionizing his fellow community organizer, Obama opined that one of the lessons to take from Chávez was his “momentum and his fighting spirit”:
You don’t quit fighting, no matter how long it takes. No matter the chances, keep going forward, propelled forward: ‘Yes we can!’
What Latinos Posts described as César Chávez’s “tireless fight for Latino workers in the United States” dovetails nicely with the efforts of the Obama administration to reach “immigration reform” in 2014. As Obama stated at the film’s presentation:
We have to keep fighting to make sure our economy rewards the hard work of all Americans with fair pay, life, and equality…. We have to keep working to fix our broken immigration system. This is an example that it is not difficult to do, but we’ve made some progress and we’re going to achieve it.
What Obama failed to mention was that the efforts of Chávez was for the benefit of American citizens who worked in the fields, and certainly not those who entered this nation illegally.
US citizens only need apply …
Without citing a reference, Greenfield did correctly note that Chávez was far from the Homeric figure who “led a march for the human rights of Latino workers.”
Chávez was not a fan of expanding immigration. He believed that undocumented immigrants undercut the pay and negotiating power of unionized workers, and he protested farms’ use of migrant and undocumented workers as ‘strikebreakers.’
Despite the fact that Chávez is these [present] days revered among Mexican-American activists, the labor leader in his day was no more tolerant of illegal immigration than the Arizona Minutemen are now.
Worried that the hiring of illegal immigrants drove down wages, Chávez – according to numerous historical accounts – instructed union members to call the Immigration and Naturalization Service to report the presence of illegal immigrants in the fields and demand that the agency deport them.
UFW officials were even known to picket INS offices to demand a crackdown on illegal immigrants.”
The “Wet Line” attacks and the Chávez campaign of terror…
Navarrette goes on to report:
And in 1973, in one of the most disgraceful chapters in UFW history, the union set up a ‘wet line’ to prevent Mexican immigrants from entering the United States.
Under the guidance of Chávez’s cousin, Manuel, UFW members tried at first to convince the immigrants not to cross. When that didn’t work, they physically attacked the immigrants and left some bloody in the process.
At the time, The Village Voice said that the UFW conducted a ‘campaign of random terror against anyone hapless enough to fall into its net.’