In dissecting the Postville raids, many news stories, and even the Governor of Iowa, Chet Culver, have likened the working conditions in the Agriprocessors plant to those depicted in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Having recently reread The Jungle, I find it unfortunate that none of the news stories I have read touched on an obvious and important message of the revolutionary tome: that an influx of too many immigrants is the biggest contributor to such unspeakable working conditions. There were too many people for too few jobs. Throngs of people of all ages waited outside workplaces to compete for unthinkably miserable jobs in which they were abused, used up, and tossed out. There was always someone willing to work more for less, either out of naiveté or utter desperation. How many times did protagonist Jurgis Rudkus and his family lament that they would have been better off staying in their home country of Lithuania? In the chaos of the Jungle, laws were not enforced. For these immigrants, America was no longer a land of opportunity, but one of opportunists – from both sides of the immigration coin. This is why the Rule of Law is so crucial to our society. Allowing a group of people to live above the law, under the excuse of “I just came here to work” only enables opportunists and is an affront to any society that strives to be fair, just, and compassionate. Keeping immigration numbers to the traditional levels we have so far exceeded has nothing to do with discrimination, elitism, nativism, or racism. It has everything to do with halting opportunists who would break our laws for their own gain, and ensuring that America remains an equitable land of opportunity for native-born and immigrants alike.
Caroline Espinosa is a former press secretary for a U.S. Senator and spokesperson for NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 10:59am EDT