The Crusader Newspaper Group

Pfleger urges ceasing of fast-tracking work permits for migrants

Photo caption: Father Michael Pfleger

Concerned that Blacks making $15 or $16 an hour will be fired and replaced by migrants being paid $5 an hour as new “slave labor,” Father Michael Pfleger on Sunday, September 3, urged Mayor Brandon Johnson and Governor JB Pritzker not to fast track work permits for migrants until equitable systems are in place.

Referring to his reaching out to the offices of Senator Dick Durbin, the mayor and the governor, Pfleger—whose Saint Sabina parish has adopted 50 migrants—said, “I told them to beware. Rushing this work permit [for the migrants] is a good thing but there are some things that need to be in place, but nobody could give me an answer.”

Pfleger asked them if the migrants will become the new “slave labor.” He asked that because reportedly he has heard of two cases where “people were picked up outside Lowe’s on 87th Street, brought to do some work in somebody’s house, dropped off and given a few dollars, and they worked all day.

“What are they going to do, call the police?” asked Pfleger.

“They play on the fact that when you are desperate, you will take crumbs. So, what are we putting in place to make sure that poor people and newly welcomed individuals in our police stations and shelters are not mistreated and exploited by their desperate situations?

“What are we putting in place to make sure that there are not institutions in this city, this state and country that will fire Black people because they have to pay them $15 or $16 an hour and then hire a migrant and pay them $5 an hour? What are we putting in place?

“Don’t just say get a work permit. Set up standards to make sure that the poor of Chicago and that the migrants won’t be exploited, and the people are not losing their jobs at restaurants and in warehouses so they can hire a migrant and pay them a few dollars and treat them like a damn slave. That is not acceptable in America,” bellowed Pfleger.

“Are we not naïve enough to think that people will just do right? No. So, what are we putting in place to make sure that justice is in place. We cannot afford to keep silent by corporate America, and government, local, state, and federal levels are working to cut people off at their knees and just be happy that they still have stubs.”

Pfleger fears a lack of an equitable work system will create tension between Blacks and migrants, both of whom need city and state resources. “They should not be fighting over crumbs,” said Pfleger.

Referring to the bill that is being held up in a Democratic committee, banning the sale of assault weapons, Pfleger said, “When do we start electing people who do what is right and not what is good for their elections? When do we start electing people who say, ‘I may only be in for one term, but for one term I will do what is righteous and what is justice for the community of the United States.’

“When do we start electing people who understand the concerns of their constituents and not those who pay for their elections?

“There are policies decided by dollars; then the poor people’s policies will never be represented because poor people don’t have those dollars, and the one percent will continue to rule,” said Pfleger.

“While the winds of hate are greater than any tornado or hurricane, blowing stronger and fiercer than ever while the blood of murdered children cries out from the ground trying to get to our consciousness, there have been seven children shot during the first two weeks of school. While we have brothers and sisters in orange tents and brothers and sisters on police station floors and brothers and sisters piled into shelters, is silence even an option?”

Repeating what he has said many times to the city’s administration, Pfleger said, “We are creating an atmosphere for Black and brown to fight each other over crumbs while the power structure pulls its strings. While we stay divided, we will never put pressure on them to serve humanity in the United States of America.

“They will sit back in their chairs, Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Socialists will sit back and be still while we kill each other over crumbs,” bellowed Pfleger. “If you are going to fight, fight over the pie and not the crumbs of the pie.”

Strengthening his demands for equity, Pfleger said, “If we can find billions for COVID, billions for Ukraine, billions for Israel and other countries all over the world to be subsidized, but we can’t find billions to have housing in America? Don’t you tell me that.

“What’s going to happen in just a few more months when cold sets in, in Chicago? There are not enough shelter beds right now for the migrants and the homeless for Chicago. So, are you going to see people fighting to get into the shelters while those of wealth sitting in D.C. watch it happen?

“There was a fight in a police station last week over sandwiches because there wasn’t enough for everybody to eat. How dare you, United States, to have people fight over a damn sandwich while there are people eating and throwing food away every single day. We will not allow that,” he said during his sermon entitled, “Blessed are the Peacemakers.”

“I say we have thousands of shelters in Illinois, of abandoned buildings. Take some money and give it to Black and brown contractors. Hire the migrants who will live in those houses who have skills in landscaping and construction. Hire them. They can work on their house with the construction people and live in their house.”

Pfleger said if that is done, then Black and brown contractors can make money while getting rid of abandoned buildings and the homeless in Chicago and the migrants. “We would end poverty,” he said.

“Let’s stop bandaging the situation. Let’s change the narrative. People say the mayor has been in just three months, Biden is in for an election, so we need to wait. Aww, hell no. See, that is what they told me with Obama [that] we gotta wait for his second term, and then we will have a screaming in the second term.

“They said, ‘We gotta watch his legacy.’ What legacy? That’s the old politician’s lie that we’ll wait until after the election and nothing happened, because at the election you have power to either say you are going to do something or not, but we’re not going to play with you.”

Pfleger said when you take on an issue and make it clear you will not vote for Biden or Republicans or anybody, “who doesn’t promise to do something to make systematic change in this city. If you won’t do that, then get out.”

Referring to his mentor and hero, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Pfleger said, “He didn’t die being politically correct, and neither will I. I am too old and too stubborn to sell out now. You should have got me when I was a young kid when I was wet behind my ears, but I know too much now.

“I know about your crooked taxing system,” he said. “I know about your politics. I know how you sleep with the enemy around us. I know what you do. I don’t need a picture on my wall with you. I got a picture of Jesus and a picture of Dr. King. I don’t need you.”

When Pfleger was told he has been critical of the new mayor, he said, “First of all, I don’t care. I wasn’t put here on an assignment from any administration. I came here on an anointing and a calling by Jesus Christ.

“I’ve been through five mayors, six governors. I could care less what anybody thinks of Mike Pfleger but Him,” he said referring to Christ. “He was the one who woke me up this morning.”

Pfleger said he is not going to shut up about this Black vs. migrant issue, and he could not care less who likes him.

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