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Stephen Colbert's testimony before Congress (Text)

Christine O'Donnell
Stephen Colbert visits Capitol Hill today. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Stephen Colbert is testifying in front of Congress today on behalf of the United Farm Workers as they petition Congress for immigration reform. Below is Colbert's opening statement submitted for the record. His transcript will be posted soon.

"Good morning. My name is Stephen Colbert: television personality, comedian and resident of New York. I would like to thank the committee and its members for their time today and their open minds as I present my statement for the record.

In July of 2010 -- in the midst of Arizona's immigration firestorm -- I welcomed Arturo
Rodriguez, president of United Farm Workers of America, as a guest on my television show to discuss the impact on harvests in California's Central Valley. During our interview and subsequent conversation, I learned of his "Take Our Jobs" campaign; offering unemployed Americans farm work, providing necessary training and addressing the chronic and endemic shortage of agriculture laborers across the country. While an enthusiastic endeavor, the project recruited a mere three participants. As a comedian and satirist, the temptation of subjecting my character to manual labor proved impossible to resist. I offered to be the fourth.

Joined by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren -- longtime advocate for farmworkers' rights -- I traveled to Upstate New York, where I spent 10 hours picking beans, packing corn and learning about the stark reality facing American farms and farmers. I learned that many farms are closing, growers are planting less or switching to other crops, and the production of fresh foods and vegetables is moving abroad. I learned that American farmers have moved at least 84,155 acres of production and 22,285 jobs to Mexico, and that between 2007 and 2008, 1.56 million acres of U.S. farmland were shut down; 1.56 million acres is about twice the size of Delaware.

At the request of Congresswoman Lofgren, I am here today to share my experience as an entertainer turned migrant worker and to shed light on what it means to truly take one of the millions of jobs filled by immigrant labor. They say that you truly know a man after you've walked a mile in his shoes, and while I have nowhere near the hardships of these struggling immigrants, I have been granted a sliver of insight.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to share my testimony."

Watch a video of his appearance here.

By Melissa Bell  | September 24, 2010; 11:06 AM ET
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Comments

"Stephen Colbert...television personality, comedian and resident of New York." He forgot HERO! That brought tears to my eyes. (Now I need a Colbert Report to cheer me up.)

:)

Posted by: jenbaseball | September 24, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

At the end of Congressional testimony, Colbert was asked why, of all the issues he could talk about did he decide to get involved in this issue.

Colbert dropped out of character. "I like talking about people who don't have any power...I feel the need to speak for those who can't speak for themselves....We ask them to come and work, and then we ask them to leave again. They suffer, and have no rights."


He quoted Matthew 25:40: "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"

Right On, Stephen. Ceasar Chavez and The Colbert Nation are proud of you !

Posted by: kirby2 | September 24, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see someone making an ass of Representatives like Mr. King, after having to listen to these same Members making asses of the American people just about every day they open their mouths in their official capacities.

Posted by: donmotaka@comcast.net | September 24, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Democrats are making a joke (literally) out of illegal immigration when 8 million of them are taking our jobs in manufacturing, construction and service industries and stealing our SSNs to do so, which is a felony.

Less than 1% of illegal alien criminals work in agriculture.

Posted by: fury60 | September 24, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

What Colbert fails to mention (conveniently) is these farmers have the right to apply for visas to sponsor temporary farm workers, which includes providing housing, meals, health care and most importantly a tracking system that allows them to know where the workers are at all times, and assurances they will return home when their visa expires.

This requires time, money and resources which farmers can, but don’t want to, expend. They want to continue paying as little as possible for their cheap labor, while American tax payers continue to subsidize their payrolls, as they’ve done for the past two decades.

Americans are saying “enough is enough.” It’s time employers start paying their fair share.

It has never been denied that illegal aliens work hard and work cheap. They also make babies the community has to support, run up health care costs for American citizens, and demand numerous perceived entitlements to which they are not entitled, draining local coffers.

Most work under the table and contribute little if anything to the system – nor do the farmers.

Neither illegal aliens nor farmers deserve a break simply because they have been flying under the radar (illegally).

Colbert is not a forward thinking person; he’s a comedian who reads from a script. His testimony is gibberish at best with no logic.

If Congress were to do as he proposed, the unions would pounce on the farm workers and organize them to demand higher wages and benefits from the farmers, placing an even greater financial burden on them than they are experiencing now.

AND … if the farmer has the wherewithal to fend off the unions, the “newly freed” workers will soon move on to the cities in search of a more lucrative career. And then the cycle starts all over again.

Farms near the border or in sanctuary states will always have a steady stream of cheap illegal labor regardless of the number of "amnestized" indigent workers. As the previous flood of illegal aliens, they too will know where to go to buy the documents they need that meet the government's "look real to me" requirements.

Americans bought into these sob stories 25 years ago. Most of us remember hearing many of the same tales of woes and promises of an amnesty to end all amensties

That was 12M - 15M illegal aliens and an equal number of illegitimate anchor babies ago.

Posted by: asmith1 | September 24, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I have a modest proposal that I think asmith1 might welcome. -- J. Swift

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 24, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Farm OWNERS ("farmer" implies that they are, in fact, farming -- they simply own the land and hire illegal labor to do the actual farming) are not the picture of 'good ol' middle class folk clad in bib overalls, chewin' on some straw, and just trying to feed their family' that the GOP likes to paint. I've been around my farms all my life. I've never known a poor farm owner -- find any farm town. The people with the nicest houses, kids at the fanciest schools and shiniest vehicles are your "Farmer Bobs". But they can't pay their workers minimum wage? They can't offer health insurance? They can't maintain a safe work environment? They can't pay overtime? They can't follow workers comp laws? They can... but no one makes them.

Immigration status aside, most farms are full of humans being cruelly taken advantage of so that the wealthy can get wealthier. That should be unacceptable to anyone.

Posted by: jenbaseball | September 24, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

J. Swift
Not sure asmith1 would understand the proposal.

Posted by: PonderTheGray | September 24, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Looking for a job? Jobs are now opening at many of the following locations http://bit.ly/au7QDJ

Posted by: jaymarc25 | September 25, 2010 3:19 AM | Report abuse

This is not the whole testimony.Its such a shame, must be a fantastic read for most people. Is there the two hour testimony anywhere? Its not available on c-span and i looked to no avail. I applaud Colbert for his courage for the voice of a fellow god damn loving fearing non believing Americans. This kind of transcript makes me proud to be an American. I wish people would take satire for what it really is, cleaver jokes in his style trying to get into the important parts just not being brought up.

Posted by: ATopaz | September 26, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I think Colbert's main point came when, at the end of his testimony, he was asked why, of all the issues he could talk about did he decide to get involved in this one.

It was extraordinary to watch Stephen drop out of character. His answer, "I like talking about people who don't have any power..." was brilliant. And his choosing to quote the Bible, "...whatever you do for the least of these brothers, you do for me" -- well, it gave me hope.

Yay Stephen!!

Posted by: vikzen | September 27, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

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