As Kurt Angle would say, “It’s true, it’s true.” This morning Stephen Colbert testified before a House panel on immigration reform. Colbert recently participated in the United Farm Workers “Take our jobs” campaign, in which Americans are challenged to perform the jobs of undocumented fruit and vegetable field workers. Thanks to the difficulty of the work and the terrible wages, only 16 Americans have taken up the challenge so far, including Colbert, for a single day.
The whole clip is only a few minutes long, so just watch the whole thing. The best line of his testimony: “My great-grandfather didn’t travel 4000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to live in a country that would be overrun by immigrants.” His closing line, “I trust that following my testimony, both sides will work together on this issue in the best interest of the American people as you always do,” was the only moment to elicit loud laughter from the stuffy gallery. Apparently Congress’s inability to work together is hilarious.
There were many great moments not captured on this youtube clip. Chairman Conyers initially was flustered by the cameras accompanying Colbert’s appearance and demanded that Colbert submit his written testimony and leave, to which Colbert replied, “no hablo ingles”.
Colbert took questions from members of Congress afterwards. When asked by Texas Republican Lamar Smith if he endorsed GOP policies, Colbert said, “I endorse all Republican policies without question,” leading Smith to thank Colbert for his endorsement of the Republicans’ Pledge to America.
More profoundly, Colbert broke character only once, when asked by Congressman Chu why he had chosen this issue to focus on. His moving response closed the hearing, which included other advocates for the conditions of migrant farm workers:
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 went on to quote the Book of 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’… I don’t want to take away anybody’s hardships, but migrant workers are the least of your brothers.”