Colbert Generates Mixed Reactions in Congress

Colbert Generates Mixed Reactions in Congress

Colbert Generates Mixed Reactions in Congress. Image via Wikimedia.

Stephen Colbert’s congressional testimony on migrant issues has generated mixed and interesting reactions. He appeared at the House at the invitation of the chairperson of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, Democratic Representative, Zoe Lofgren of California.

Both of them spent a day together in July, on a farm, picking beans and packing corn, as part of a campaign that encourages Americans to experience what working on a field entails. Prior to his appearance in congress, Colbert, a popular comedian and host of the ‘Colbert Report’, had submitted a serious testimony that highlighted the plight of immigrants.

The key factor that made his contribution interesting is that, as usual, he was in character (the arch conservative) for a large part of his appearance. His testimony naturally had a sarcastic hue. He told the committee members: “America’s farms are presently far too dependent on immigrant labor to pick our fruits and vegetables”. He went on to say “I don’t want a tomato picked by a Mexican. I want it picked by an American, then sliced by a Guatemalan, and served by a Venezuelan in a spa where a Chilean gives me a Brazilian.”   

The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee felt that his presentation differed from his original submission. The Republicans were not amused. Republican Steve King said “It’s an insult to me to hear that Americans won’t do this work”.

At one point in his testimony, Colbert became serious and said that he is interested in the issue because migrants don’t have any power, and that “We invite them here and ask them to leave”. He alluded to the words of Christ about “the least of our brothers”. He said he hoped to bring attention to the hardship that undocumented farm workers go through.

Some felt that the Democrats were making a joke out of a serious issue. Zoe Lofgren, however, declared that bringing him to testify was not a stunt, but that she hoped his celebrity status will help generate attention for the issue.

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