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Stephen Colbert, Defending Immigrant Farm Workers, Takes Show to Capitol Hill

5 years ago
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Comedian Stephen Colbert, a fake newsman on his evening cable television show, drew a huge crowd to a real U.S. House subcommittee hearing on immigrant farm labor Friday. Colbert didn't disappoint, lacing his testimony with one-liners and concluding with an offer "to take your questions and pose for pictures with your grandchildren."

"I certainly hope my star power can bump this hearing all the way up to C-SPAN," Colbert wisecracked in a reference to the cable channel that televises congressional sessions and hearings, however dry and mundane. Click play below to watch video of the testimony:

Colbert appeared before the Judiciary panel in character -- that is, as the super-patriotic conservative commentator he plays on his Comedy Central Show, "The Colbert Report." American farms are way too dependent on foreign laborers to pick their fruits and vegetables, he informed the subcommittee. "Now the obvious answer is for all of us to stop eating fruits and vegetables. And if you look at the recent obesity statistics, you'll see that many Americans already have started," he said, according to a Washington Post report. "I don't want a tomato picked by a Mexican. I want it picked by an American, then sliced by a Guatemalan and served by a Venezuelan in a spa where a Chilean gives me a Brazilian."

Colbert said his great-grandfather did not travel across the Atlantic Ocean to America to see it "overrun by immigrants." He did it, Colbert deadpanned, "because he killed a man back in Ireland."

Colbert was there at the invitation of Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), chairwoman of an immigration and citizenship subcommittee. But his appearance caused such a hubbub that Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) asked him to leave, saying, "You run your show, we run the committee," the Associated Press reported. Lofgren signaled for him to stay in the room, and Conyers thought better of it and withdrew his request.

Lofgren said Colbert may have attracted the biggest crowd to the hearing room since the Judiciary Committee considered the impeachment Bill Clinton. The hearing was originally called to address an on-going problem: American growers need seasonal laborers, but many of those who take the jobs are in the U.S. illegally.

Colbert recently spent a day picking vegetables on a farm in New York. Hard work, he said. "I don't even want to watch Green Acres again," he told the lawmakers who may or may not have been familiar with the 1960s rural-themed sit-com. Colbert appeared alongside a real life character -- Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers Union.

He plans to be back in Washington next month. Colbert and mock rival Jon Stewart, liberal host of Comedy Central's satirical newscast, the Daily Show, say they'll stage competing rallies on the National Mall on Oct. 30.

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His line about the fruit being picked by an American and then put in the hands of other immigrants before being served is a good one which shows how absurd this is. It either has to be one way or the other. It won't change anytime soon.

September 24 2010 at 12:57 PM

love you colbert!

September 24 2010 at 12:57 PM

I think it is a sad state we live in where a comedian is doing what we should all be doing (Fighting for “human” rights) and to those of you making fun. At leased he is doing something about this atrocity not to mention it is only illegal because someone decided to close the door. You cant start a free country saying everyone is welcome, and then making it illegal with severe punishment. What happened to this country? The only reason why we are loosing jobs to them is not because they will work for so much less. it is because they can be take advantage of by the employers in this country. Where do we get off blaming them for our lost jobs, tens of thousands of the jobs we are loosing are going over seas due to our governments treaty agreements. Poison toys from china? You can thank our government for that. FYI it is not like you can just say here I am can i be legalized like it used to be. There is a huge amount of red tape and cost. Lets face it the main problem is not them it is our own countries greed and disrespect!! for human life. We do not stand for opportunity and freedom any more we stand for control and intolerance. What ever happened to "Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" I guess that only applies if you have the cash.

September 24 2010 at 12:56 PM

When we discuss Immigrants, we really must include all the many Afghanis, Iraquis, Viet Namese, Korean, Thai, Russians, Somalis, and other folks who were threatened in our many wars! The department of Immigration brings many of these people to the United States and immediately provides them with incomes for food, clothing and shelter plus medical care. How long these provisions are given is unknown to me. Some of these people had been terrorized and/or are in poor physical and emotional health. I often wonder why this sector of our Immigration influx is ignored. True, these people are here legally under the general auspices of our government but so are the seasonal non-citizen immigrants who are allowed entry to pick fruits and vegetables when they are ripe and there are not enough citizens who want to do the job.

September 24 2010 at 12:56 PM

A circus within the circus. Just one more glimpse into the world of politics as usual in Washington and the disrespect the lawmakers have for the citizens of the United States and their willingness to waste their time and our money.

September 24 2010 at 12:56 PM

I like comedy and humor as much as anyone...but, sorry, ther is absolutely nothing funny about what is happening to our country today. This administration is taking us down fast. HELP!!

September 24 2010 at 12:55 PM

The reason they had Colbert on was fodder to pass amnesty.

September 24 2010 at 12:55 PM

How could immigrants be taking jobs away if Americans are already doing the job? Face it, these are jobs that Americans don't want to do. Is it Linday Lohan who is going to pick tomatoes or Paris Hilton? Americans do not want these type of jobs that is why these vacuums were created in the first place. Most Americans do not like to work weekends or menial jobs like picking fruits. If they want the job then they want to be paid such a huge amount that will bankrupt the companies very fast forcing these companies to resort to using immigrants. You do not want these jobs bottom line. You created the vaccums, the immigrants are just filling it.

September 24 2010 at 12:55 PM
Paul Samargedlis

Are you kidding me....we muffle the voices of serious Americans, and then we let this comedian have a platform during a govt. hearong ? we have loss all sense on this one. shame on the REP who invited him----what is she just trying to be cool and attract some attention. how about doing your job..............

September 24 2010 at 12:55 PM

I own a log home that must be stained and the logs sealed every five years. Last year we hired a company to ddo the work. They gave us a good price and sent out two workers to do the job. After a day or two into the job I discovered that both workers were illegals from centeral America. The contract had been signed with the man who owned the company who was an American with Mexican roots. It didn't take me long to realize these two workers worked very hard and did an outstanding job. I couldn't help but respect them for the job they did. I have become close friends with the one worker and have supplied him with more work. My feelings are mixed now as what the country should do with the 12 million illegals that are here. For the most part they want the freedom and low paying jobs we offer. I believe they are mostly good honest hard working people. The two who worked on my house I would have no problem with them as neighbors. I can't see sending them back to a 3rd world nation when their harder working young people than our own American childern. Whats the answer?????

September 24 2010 at 12:55 PM

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