The Common Good

Stephen Colbert for the Least of These

Last week more than 500 people gathered in Washington, D.C. to lobby for the DREAM Act. We visited the offices of Senators McConnell, Graham, and McCain as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging them to act on behalf of the millions of undocumented students who arrived as minors and are eager to attend college or join the armed forces. Less than a week later, a successful filibuster in the Senate prevented a vote on the DREAM Act. Few people noticed, except the immigrants who are most vulnerable.

Months earlier, in March, 2010, roughly 200,000 people came to D.C. to call for comprehensive immigration reform. Some pledged their support, many paid lip service to the concerns, but Congress failed to act, and has continued to stand by without solutions and without action for months, and even years on end. Few people notice, except the immigrants who are most vulnerable.

Last week, comedian and cultural critic Stephen Colbert testified before Congress alongside members of the United Farm Workers Union. He came to advocate for human rights and better treatment of undocumented migrant workers who do the strenuous and difficult work on our farms to provide fruits and vegetables for our markets and groceries.

Asked to testify because he spent a day in August working alongside migrant workers in the fields, Colbert had taken the United Farm Workers challenge to American citizens to "Take our Jobs!" Colbert is one of only a handful to take such a grueling job, for even one day, since the campaign began.

The appearance has been controversial, to say the least. Many believe Colbert's appearance, in character, makes a mockery of Congress. Others lament that one day in the fields does not make one an expert on the plight and challenges facing undocumented farm workers.

But last week, one of the men who shared his story in Senator McCain's office was a wounded veteran who is currently facing deportation from the United States. His documents had run out, and even though he is now bound to a wheelchair due to injuries suffered while on active duty with the United States military, that same country is booting him to the curb. Few people noticed, except the immigrants who are most vulnerable.

But thanks to Stephen Colbert's appearance, people are taking notice!

Love it or hate it, the plight of migrant workers will be talked about more in the coming days and months then it has been in decades, and perhaps there will be the political will to do something about it. Today, Colbert took seriously Jesus' words, "To whom much has been given, much will be required."

As a committed Catholic, Colbert stepped out of character in his closing statement, when asked why he focused on this issue as opposed to the many others clamoring for his attention. His response included the words of Jesus from Matthew 25: "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers

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