Letter to the Southampton Press:
The recent bias incidents on the East End are another urgent “call for action,” if any is needed. It is imperative to establish a work center to provide protection for both the day laborers and the contractors that hire them. At the same time, it is equally urgent to confront the misinformation and misplaced anger swirling around us.
Immigrants—whether documented or undocumented—don’t come here to take work away from people who came here before them. Many are driven by rural poverty, because peasants in their home country cannot compete with subsidized American products. And all are drawn because there are jobs here and employers who will hire them. Once they are here, they contribute to the economy, and many pay taxes (including Social Security taxes, for which they will never be able to draw benefits).
There are many who feel threatened by the relatively low wages paid to day laborers and frustrated by the lack of affordable housing on the East End. But instead of fighting the immigrants, I would urge us all to make common cause in a fight for a living wage, for housing and social justice for all. That, after all, is the American promise, is it not?