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Blame for worker's death extends to many parties

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Posted: Friday, June 13, 2008 10:00 pm

Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, the pregnant 17-year-old Mexican illegal alien laborer who died last month while working in a Lodi vineyard, has sparked a host of controversies.

The debate's focus centers on who is to blame for the sad death of this young girl.

Most of the attention correctly falls on Jimenez's employer, Merced Farm Labor, a contractor with a history of disregarding worker safety.

But the list of accomplices is long.

First comes Mexico, a country that steadfastly refuses to carry out the basic governmental responsibility of providing for its citizens.

Even though Mexico is one of the world's wealthiest nations and home to the richest man in the world, Carlos Slim, it will not lift a finger - or should I say tax its elites? - on behalf of its people.

Accordingly, with Mexico's blessing and encouragement, the most desperate of its populace seeks haven in the United States.

Unbelievably and without a critical word from the U.S., two years ago Mexico issued a comic book titled "Guide for the Mexican Migrant" with helpful hints about how to cross into America and stay out of trouble once you arrive.

Mexican presidents, the unabashed hypocrites Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon, have come to the U.S. to praise alien workers as "heroes" and vital to our economy.

Is, I wonder, Jimenez one of Fox's heroes?

Second on my list is President George W. Bush, a primary abettor of illegal immigration. Since his first days in the White House, Bush has repeatedly uttered such nonsense as "family values don't stop at the Rio Grande," "America is a nation of immigrants" and "immigrants do jobs Americans won't."

Each statement grossly distorts the truth and is interpreted in Mexico as an open invitation to come north.

Not only has Bush refused to secure the border, he sanctioned the outrageous jail sentence handed down to Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean for pursuing a known Mexican drug dealer.

As recently as a week ago, Bush pulled the National Guard from the border, making it easier yet to cross into the southwestern United States.

The third culprit is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, highly visible at Jimenez's funeral and making the same old predictable promises about reform.

As an enormously popular Hollywood movie star and legal immigrant, Schwarzenegger could have shifted the state's bitter argument about illegal immigration to a higher plane by reinforcing the concept of obeying immigration law.

Instead, Schwarzenegger fell in line with Bush by endorsing amnesty. Any statement that encourages amnesty welcomes illegal immigrants - come on over, you may get lucky!

Fourth, the Mexican ethnic identity organizations and Washington, D.C. lobbyists like La Raza and League of United Latin American Citizens, who feign compassion for Mexicans but are only concerned about protecting their six-figure salaries.

For the last three years, you've seen them waving their placards at illegal alien May Day protest marches: "No human is illegal!" - as if enforcing immigration law were a statement about the human condition.

Fifth, the mainstream media, which for 20 years has refused to report honestly on illegal immigration.

The phrase "undocumented worker" never existed until the media coined it. And America's debate is not - as the media would have you believe - about "immigrants and immigration" - but about illegal immigration.

As the media knows but ignores, an immigrant is someone who enters the U.S through a port of entry with a valid visa - not someone who climbs over a wire fence in the dark of night.

For as long as anyone can remember, America has laid out the red carpet: Get to the U.S. and claim an array of social services. The statistical probability of deportation is infinitesimally small.

And in the last 10 years, the U.S. has become even more gracious to illegal immigrants - offering home mortgages, accepting transparently fake identification as valid work documents and even, in some states, issuing driver's licenses.

At the same time, obvious flaws in our immigration system remain unchecked. Jimenez's case brings to mind the foolish birthright citizenship clause that would have allowed her child to become an American citizen.

Birthright citizenship was ended years ago in most Western countries.

California has revoked Merced Farm Labor's license.

That's not enough. I'd like to see the principals sentenced to long jail terms and meaningful monetary fines.

For those indirectly responsible, listed above, may they come to their senses before more lives are needlessly lost.

Joe Guzzardi is an instructor at the Lincoln Technical Academy. Contact him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

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  • posted at 1:49 pm on Sat, Jun 21, 2008.


    T&C, terrible story. I am glad you are doing ok. I have to agree with Sam. Over the past few months your blogs show you love Lodi. I would be good for us if you ran for CC. Think about it.

  • posted at 3:40 am on Sat, Jun 21, 2008.


    gray cloud, well said.The governor used this death as a publicity stunt. Instead of putting the blame on the girl, for working in the sun after vomiting for 2 weeks and not drinking water, the boyfriend, for driving her to the store instead of the hospital, and her uncle, for even allowing the sick girl out in the fields, they want to accuse the cruel farmer for forcing her work without water all day long. WTF.

  • posted at 2:47 pm on Fri, Jun 20, 2008.


    How come schawartzneggir never came to any other funeral of a teens death in lodi. Seems to me their deaths were as important as any others? Joe, this one is right on the money.

  • posted at 1:17 pm on Fri, Jun 20, 2008.


    Raymond, I know I am very critical that you took T&C's name, but I have always liked you as Raymond. Last year someone complained about glass at Lodi Lake and you posted that you went and cleaned it up. You won me over.Thank you for sharing your story. Never sell yourself short though. Even with a back brace, you have a lot to offer this city. I for one would love for you to run for CC. You have a passion for this city.AND FYI, all us farmers are not assholes who abuse illegals. Seriously.

  • posted at 12:34 pm on Fri, Jun 20, 2008.


    sam, "No offense was taken". I was based at 29 Palms Marine Corp base in 1974, and on my way back to base, to head out to okinawa, and then to Nam a few months later, I was hit by a "Drunk driver" head on going 80 on I-5! True I could have lied and said I fell on a grenade saving my buddies but I have no need to lie in forums or in person. Ask any bus driver who Raymond is. They all know I wear 2 back supports. I hope that answers your question.

  • posted at 11:24 am on Fri, Jun 20, 2008.


    T&C, my 3:22 was not meant to sound rude... I guess I was blunt. But I am just curious. If you choose not to answer, I respect that.

  • posted at 10:26 am on Fri, Jun 20, 2008.


    T&C, if you are so worried about pesticides I would recommend NOT eating food in most grocery stores coming from Mexico, Chili, etc. We are regulated here in the US and like Tom says, we use very little chemicals.Food grown outside of the US is not regulated. Scary stuff. I prefer to grow my own food.

  • posted at 10:22 am on Fri, Jun 20, 2008.


    Tom, well said. Thank you.

  • posted at 10:22 am on Fri, Jun 20, 2008.


    T&C, you said you served in 1974. What war were you injured in?On another blog you said you were injured in a head on collision on I-5.

  • posted at 9:07 am on Fri, Jun 20, 2008.


    America needs to hand out "America's Guide To Returning to Mexico!

  • posted at 10:35 am on Thu, Jun 19, 2008.


    Thanks, obie, for your gut wrenching compliment. I' rather pay a dollar more for that head of lettuce if I knew you were picking it.

  • posted at 10:15 am on Thu, Jun 19, 2008.


    papercut, you make me sick. Wipe your chin, your slobbering ignorance.

  • posted at 10:15 am on Thu, Jun 19, 2008.


    "papercut wrote on Jun 18, 2008 6:05 PM:" I'd rather pay 50 cents more for a head of lettuce than to see our jobs go to Mexicans, legal or illegal. "I agree with you papercut!Billions are sent back to Mexico, which encourages even more illegals to come to America! If I lived in a garage or an apartment with a dozen others and my rent equalled only $50.00 a month I would have more money too! Legal Immigrants I have to disagreement with. Those who come here and do crime, I do have a issue with.

  • posted at 1:05 pm on Wed, Jun 18, 2008.


    I'd rather pay 50 cents more for a head of lettuce than to see our jobs go to Mexicans, legal or illegal.

  • posted at 7:12 am on Wed, Jun 18, 2008.


    t&c " No marzo2008, I am unable to work, due to my injuries from serving my country. If you are able to type in these words you are able to work. You need to look for solutions to get people involved to help one another. You didn't served you country just for a few of us, you served your country for all of us. stop looking at the negative in life. You need to enjoy what you have. I too served in the Army but moved on. looking foreward into the future. With what i have.

  • posted at 7:01 am on Wed, Jun 18, 2008.


    ...but the cost of that labor would go right to the price you pay in the store. So it is you, T&C, who benefit from their labors in the fields, as well as it is you, T&C, who pays the social welfare costs of the cheap food you eat. You will pay one way or another. Personally, I would rather pay in food costs than in social services costs. Because if the rule of law can be ignored here, it can be ignored in other areas. Enforce the law or revoke it.

  • posted at 6:58 am on Wed, Jun 18, 2008.


    T&C you are spouting off where you don't have a clue. The ag industry is not generating huge profits off the backs of low wage workers. And yes, I do know how much chemicals are put on our crops - as little as possible because they are damn expensive.I believe as you do that we should not look the other way at illegal immigrants and their abuses of our laws, but your arguments about the ag industry are not correct. If all the illegal immigrants left, there would be an increase in the cost of labor...cont.

  • posted at 6:23 am on Wed, Jun 18, 2008.


    There have been labor laws on the books for years to protect farmworkers. They are not enforced because big farmers give big contributions to politicians. It's not economical for a politician to enforce laws that may cost farmers money.

  • posted at 1:40 pm on Tue, Jun 17, 2008.


    Does any reader have a clue as to how many pesticides growers use to kill all the bugs, in order to have huge crops and huge profits? Do you think washing them gets the pesticides off? Guess again. Pesticides are filtered into the ground by water, and pesticides are taken in by the root system! http://www.diet-blog.com/archives/2007/01/26/pesticides_the_12_most_tainted_foods.php Gee... Strawberries, grapes, cherries and apples are on the list of the fruits with the HIGHEST levels of pesticides!

  • posted at 1:36 pm on Tue, Jun 17, 2008.


    No marzo2008, I am unable to work, due to my injuries from serving my country. If there were no illegals to work in the fields, two things would happen: First, those growers that can use machines instead of cheap labor would have the crops picked by machine. Second, those that still had to be picked by hand, would be forced to pay a DECENT wage, and obey all OSHA Codes. But as it is Cheap labor means High profits! Does anyone have a CLUE as to how many PESTICIDES they put on crops to kill all the bugs?

  • posted at 1:35 pm on Tue, Jun 17, 2008.


    Marzo2008: I worked in the fields, I know! As a white-boy I quickly learned a lot! But WE, as a great nation, are fed up of "baby factories" taking over our system, while putting little into it! Our schools are over-crowded with kids who get a free education that I PAY FOR, their parents get WIC because they don't use CONDOMS, they do NOT pay taxes because they have fake ID!! So some of us are pied off! We have that right! What right would I have in Mexico???? NONE!

  • posted at 1:32 pm on Tue, Jun 17, 2008.


    Just because people illegally enter and sqat permanently in America, refusing to obey our laws, learn our laws and contribute in a positive way does not mean just because they are here that we are to say, "Oh gee, well they are already here so let's look the other way"! Obey our immigration laws like all those countries that are unable to sneak in! What special right or privilege does Mexico have?

  • posted at 7:10 am on Tue, Jun 17, 2008.


    Hey T & C are you going to work in the field to get the food we need to eat. If they throw out all of the illegals out of this country? Blaming others don't make things right. We don't only get mexican illegals comes here. People from everywhere are coming here. You say that your a "disabled vet". It doesn't mean I have the right to cross their border and live there illegally! "You of all people should know that if you served in the military that you are serving for all. That means serving everyone for the Good of Society, and not judging them from where or who they are. Just like today in Iraq the men and women fighting there are there for all of us. Each and every country in the world.

  • posted at 2:58 am on Tue, Jun 17, 2008.


    Something I have noticed ABSENT for the last 10 years across America is happening and NO ONE SEEMS TO BE NOTICING! Where are all the hispanic citizens who fought hard and long to obtain their U.S. Citizenship marching that it is "WRONG" for other hispanics to just "Sneak across the border and live here"? Sadly, many who illegally enter America are doing so because many have "Relatives here"! That is who they stay with after they arrive! That is why houses, apartments, and "Garages" are packed like sardines! Consider the water bill alone! Landlords most times do not care. They just want the rent money and the deposit! I am disappointed that Legal Hispanics seem to be unconcerned about illegal immigration, nationwide, not just in Lodi!

  • posted at 2:53 am on Tue, Jun 17, 2008.


    "Theodore Roosevelt on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN Citizen"In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."Theodore Roosevelt 1907. I believe in those values and those same values are NOT RACIST!

  • posted at 2:50 am on Tue, Jun 17, 2008.


    All these Illgeal Immigration "Marchers" are Proud to be mexican and flaunt the mexican flag in front of TV Cameras! It's ironic that all of these "Pro-Illegal March supporter's" are not working toward getting these illegals to comply with America's immigration laws!If you illegally live in Lodi, you have no pressure to read, write, or speak english or learn our laws! You just hide in a house or garage full of spanish speaking people and "Fit right in"! If you can't respect our laws or care enough to speak our language, what else can we expect from you?

  • posted at 2:47 am on Tue, Jun 17, 2008.


    Illegally enter Mexico and face 2 years in prison! Sorry but if you're not an American Citizen, you are entitled to at the minimum, deprtation back to Mexico. You're NOT entitled to an Attorney. Thge U.S. Constitution was intended for U.S. citizens! I'm sorry mexico is a drug infested, poor water, poor employment, poor everything country. Instead of Millions invading America, "Work towards fixing your own country, not adding to our countries problems! One final point: All those mothers who have nino after nino in an effort to NOT be deported if caught, "Do NOT WORK in the fields or anywhere else. Free check, free medical, free food stamps! If you want to come to America, do it legally, like the rest of the world must do. So you have to wait! So does everyone else! England has a ocean in their way! They can not just sneak across our border. What gives Mexico the right? I would like to see 500 illegal Americans march down mexico City streets "DEMANDING the rights these illegal IMMIGRATION groups here are doing!

  • posted at 2:28 am on Tue, Jun 17, 2008.


    In all fairness, if this "Illegal" had styed in Mexico, would her death have occured in the Growers field? NO! We all are smart enough to know we need to drink water in HOT WEATHER! She is from Mexico for CH***T's sake. Sorry, I don't mean to sound cold, but illegals belong in their own country. The rest of the world has to file for Work Visas and Citizenship. Mexico deserves no special Live in America pass by sneaking in and sqatting. Abuse of illegals would NOT occur by Labor groups or Growers if illegals stayed in their own country. Canada has FREE MEDICAL for everyone. I am a disabled vet. It doesn't mean I have the right to cross their border and live there illegally!

  • posted at 7:09 am on Mon, Jun 16, 2008.


    Joe-- you are only using word but no solutions. Do you really think that those illegals enjoy working in the fields? Are you saying that they are taking jobs from Americans? Maybe you should see how it is to work on a hot weekend in the fields. Remember you have to get up early and find a ride to get to the job. Then remember to have some money to buy or bring a lunch. You use many words but no solutions. Remember the next time you have a salad or fruit who picked those for you?

  • posted at 6:58 am on Mon, Jun 16, 2008.


    Tom, thank you for that valuable information. I do listen and learn.

  • posted at 2:51 am on Mon, Jun 16, 2008.


    Papercut - the e-verification system is not that easy to use in agriculture. When I was Controller for a large farming operation, we couldn't use the system, because it was limited to 5 entries per day. We needed to process 300 workers in a week. And the data is not up to date. The idea is right, but the system is not there yet. As for ignorance and greed, it is not that simple. When someone shows up with "legitimate looking" documents, you process them and get them working. It takes 6-18 months before the SS administration gets back to you that the documents don't match. By that time, the worker is gone. It is not greed or ignorance on the part of the employer, it is the way the law is written.Imagine if you looked at a hispanic applicant with "legitimate looking" documentation, and said sorry, I won't hire you. The worker turns out to be legitimate. You just discrimated against him/her. Employers should not be responsible for enforcing immigration laws.

  • posted at 7:09 am on Sun, Jun 15, 2008.


    What happens is that the vast majority of illegals have come from Mexico, and the Raza groups yell "discrimiation" but it is really just pure numbers. Most violators ARE from Mexico so the majority of those arrested WILL BE from Mexico.

  • posted at 4:29 am on Sun, Jun 15, 2008.


    I agree with all that you wrote about in your column. It would also be interesting to know if you supported Pat Buchanan when he was talking about this and suggesting closing the borders when he as running for president. I wholeheartedly supported controlling the borders and whatever else needed to be done to stop the inward flow of illegal immigrants to the United States. The laws should be across the board for all illegal immigrants not just some as is now happening.

  • posted at 11:32 pm on Sat, Jun 14, 2008.


    Great article, Joe.

  • posted at 11:56 am on Sat, Jun 14, 2008.


    Just how many employers of 6 or more here in Lodi have done an E-verification? I can name you five large businesses that haven't right here in Lodi city limits and they know why they haven't. Every Sunday I see those large ads in the Record help wanted for these companies looking for dependable employees hiring through an employment agency so if they're illegal the company can turn the other way and plead ignorance. Why would they not use the verification system if they were not exploiting these employees in some way. There are more than enough out of work Latinos that're legal from the construction industry that there's no excuse for anyone having an illegal on their payroll, no employment agency or contractor bs excuses. Those that do are only showing their ignorance and greed.

  • posted at 4:47 am on Sat, Jun 14, 2008.


    One other culprit are the corporations - some even ship illegal immigrants in.

  • posted at 4:45 am on Sat, Jun 14, 2008.


    Good point, sam; Great letter, Joe.

  • posted at 3:16 am on Sat, Jun 14, 2008.


    Don't forget to blame Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez and her boy friend. I am sorry but people need to be responsible for their actions and their health.


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