At a Congressional subcommittee hearing Friday that one Republican has criticized as â€śa joke,â€ť Comedy Central show host Stephen Colbert will provide â€śseriousâ€ť testimony about migrant farm workers, a spokesperson for the subcommittee chairperson told Fox Business.â€¬â€Ş
Colbert is one of four witnesses scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committeeâ€™s immigration subcommittee, at hearing titled â€śProtecting Americaâ€™s Harvest,â€ť according to the committee website.
Colbertâ€™s appearance stems from his recent participation in the â€śTake Our Jobsâ€ť campaign launched in June by United Farm Workers of America.
The campaign invites people to apply for farm jobs posted by state jobs banks. It is designed to rebut critics who charge undocumented agriculture laborers are taking jobs from American citizens at a time of high U.S. unemployment. According to the UFW, government statistics show that since the late 1990s, at least 50% of the crop workers have not been authorized to work legally in the U.S.
â€śThe effort spotlights the immigrant labor issue and underscores the need for reforms without which the domestic agricultural industry could be crippled, leading to more jobs moving off shore,â€ť the UFW said in June. â€śFarm workers are ready to welcome citizens and legal residents who wish to replace them in the field. We will use our knowledge and staff to help connect the unemployed with farm employers.â€ť
In July, in an interview with UFW president Arturo Rodriguez on his program, The Colbert Report, Colbert agreed to work as a laborer in the campaign. Colbert was scheduled to air a report on his experience, at a farm in upstate New York, on his show tonight, the UFW said. Rodriguez is also a witness at the Friday hearing.
Colbert was joined at the farm by the subcommitteeâ€™s chairperson, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). Colbert interviewed her for a report that aired on his show Wednesday.
Pedro Ribeiro, Lofgrenâ€™s spokesperson, said Lofgren extended Colbert an invitation to testify after she met him at the farm. He said the subcommittee had received Colbertâ€™s written testimony, which he described as â€śserious.â€ť
Ribeiro added that Colbert was appearing at his own expense; that the hearing is one a series on the issue of migrant workers, and that Colbertâ€™s participation will not generate any additional cost to the subcommittee because the session would have proceeded without him.
A spokesman for the subcommitteeâ€™s senior Republican, Rep. Steve King (R-IA), declined to comment on Colbertâ€™s appearance but said King would have an opening statement at the session.
According to FoxNews.com, one of Kingâ€™s fellow Republicans on the subcommittee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), has criticized the hearing as "a joke."
"We have never, ever had a substantive discussion on any immigration issue ... and they're calling Colbert as their first guy?" Chaffetz told Fox News. "The meeting room will be packed. Everybody will want to get their picture taken with him and an autograph and what no, but we're not here to make Comedy Central look good. We do that all by ourselves."
You can read more about the UFW campaign at www.takeourjobs.org.