tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC May 9, 2020 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
remind to have watch my virtual town hall in the morning, the covid-19 economy. my special guests, suze orman. tomorrow don't miss the unicef event. ♪ oh >> oh, my god. >> to say that food is my passion is, well, an understatement. i'm andrew zimmern. >> wow, wow, wow, wow. >> i'm a chef and world traveler with an appetite for politics and world culture. food is more than sustenance. it's how we find common ground. >> cheers. >> you so crazy. >> i believe that applies here at home. now more than ever.
as the coronavirus spreads across america, our entire food system is in danger and the people who feed us are at risk. covid-19 has revealed a critical fact about your food system -- every plate of food we eat is touched by the hands of immigrant and migrant labor, people who have been kept in the shadows are now being called essential workers. many lack protective equipment, paid sick leave and health insurance, and they are on the front lines of this deadly pandemic. there has never been a more important time to tell their stories. join me as i explore our country, looking at the biggest social and political questions of the day through the lens of food. i mean, there is no one solution. mmm. sharing a few good meals along the way. minute di, hot and fresh! and trying to figure out --
holy, moly! what's eating america. immigration is fundamental to who we are as americans. i've spent 40 years in the food business, and i can tell you, without immigrants and migrant workers, our food system would collapse. >> have a nice day. >> the truth is, these hard working men and women put food on our tables. i'm heading out across the country to share the inspiring stories of the communities who feed america. joining me on this journey is one of my dearest friends -- >> ooh! >> every time you have a bite, the sauce. sauce, bite, sauce. >> jose andres is a renowned chef and humanitarian. he feeds millions in the aftermath of natural disasters through his nonprofit world central kitchen.
no chef has done more in the world to shine a light on immigration issues than he has. >> i keep repeating the phrase immigration reform is not a problem for america to solve. it's an opportunity for america to seize. >> for jose, it's personal. he came to the united states from spain 30 years ago. in 2013, he became a u.s. citizen. >> when you examine the food system in america, people who are immigrants, migrants, refugees, documented and undocumented, are touching our food every single step of the way. you realize how important it is to engage with people of other countries in a way that makes sense. >> jose and i want to engage with every american on the issue of immigration. every american. >> president trump, two years and a half ago, you had a conversation with me on the phone, and you told me that you would love to hear our ideas on true immigration reform.
i think enough time has passed. i'm inviting you hear to join us on this documentary to try once and for all immigration reform. >> let's have lunch. we'd love to talk. >> bye, sir. >> boom. . >> to show the connection between the food americans eat and the immigrants who make it possible, jose and i figured there's no better way to start than right here inside our nation's capital. >> today we are celebrating the food we produce, and especially the people behind the entire process. >> finding out where the food eaten by our most powerful politicians is difficult. our requests for food information from the white house and senate yielded nothing. so we found an alternative route. the house members dining room can be rented for caters events,
which is what we did. >> the u.s. capitol's famous navy bean soup. beans from laverne, tennessee, and the country ham from missouri. our farmed capital event attracts dozens of lobbyists and industry insiders, all stakeholders in our system. >> there's two entities that get shorted in this process, routinely, it's the farmers and the workers. >> lawmakers from both parties show up too. >> i learned there's a lot of people in the united states that go hungry. >> many of the same dishes are served to members of congress on any given day. appropriately all the ingredients from this meal come from right here in the usa. what are you guys making? >> bison kebab. >> where you getting the bison from? >> alexandria. >> alexandria, virginia? >> yes.
>> sudexo is a global food company serving like members in the house dining room. they gave us photos and records to trace all 39 ingredients in our buffet back to their sources. we can show you all the food served today has been touched by immigrant and migrant labor. serving the most powerful people in the country, the peep that create laws that affect their lives. the duck breast tostada is made from kale here. agricultural employers can hire workers on temporary work slvis to fill jobs. the crab in the fritter is marketed as best yet maryland
crab meat, and that's from w.t. rourke and company in fishing creek, maryland. >> this harvest season they have work visas for 35 migrant workers. from the strawberries on the salad bar to the water melon in the gazpacha every ingredient traces its way back to immigrant and migrant labor. how do we know about the visas? simple. just like we did, you can check the public data base and see which farms around the country are using the foreign guest worker visa program, and i'm headed to one of these farms to see what life there is actually like. ♪ [ singing in foreign language ]
[ speaking in foreign language ] [ singing in foreign language ] >> 2,960 miles away from washington, d.c., giant fields of beautiful california strawberries. ♪ those folks right there, they're the ones putting those strawberries on to the plates of the heavy hitters in the congressional dining room. ♪ here in the valley, the ocean breeze tricks it into thinking it's springtime for most of the year. welcome to the heart of california farm country. [ speaking in foreign language ]
>> meet sarah, almado. they're migrant workers working for good farms by way of the foreign worker guest visa program. [ speaking foreign language ] >> so the strawberries that you picked are being served in the congressional dining room in washington, d.c. on capitol hill. [ speaking foreign language ] >> do you have a message for those lawmakers? [ speaking foreign language ]
>> we're all connected in more ways than we might realize. >> that's where i live. that's the baseball cap and colors of the university of minnesota. i work hard because some day i want my son to be able to go to school there. gracias. >> gracias. >> because areldi and others are here under the guest worker program, employers must provide meals, transportation, and housing. >> the irony is not lost on any fan of american literature that the harvesters sleep four to a room here at the stein beck lodge them town being the home of john steinbeck, author of grapes of wrath. hi. can i come in?
[ speaking foreign language ] >> that's my kid. because of covid-19, the u.s. state department is now restricting h-2a applications to only previous workers. this will make a shortage for the spring planting season. studies the show the average american worker doesn't want to do this work. >> i full will i agree. i have not seen an average american comply. and ask yo ur doctor about biktarvy. biktarvy is a complete, one-pill, once-a-day treatment used for h-i-v in certain adults. it's not a cure, but with one small pill, biktarvy fights h-i-v to help you get to and stay undetectable. that's when the amount of virus is so low it cannot be measured by a lab test. research shows people who take h-i-v treatment every day and get to and stay undetectable can no longer transmit h-i-v through sex. serious side effects can occur, including kidney problems and kidney failure. rare, life-threatening side effects
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like taylor farms, the world's largest producer of cut vegetables. and tanamura and on tantle a to supplier of greens. food from both companies is served at the capitol, is we reached out to discuss the roll immigrants play. neither responded. >> there is a huge labor crisis in california. good farms did. she supply strawberries to places like whole foods. jackie vazquez is the director of operations. >> three years ago we didn't have enough people and there were fields that there was tractors just plowing them down. >> the agricultural labor shortage in america is so acute you don't have a choice, you have to rely on the h-2a program and bring up workers from mexico. >> if i'm going to harvest the amount in my budget i agreed to with certain retailers i
southerly need h-2a. >> in addition to h-2a good farms relies on immigrant workers already living in the united states. >> studies show that the average american worker doesn't want do this kind of work. >> i fully agree. if my tenure i have not seen an average american come apply. >> this is difficult work. >> very difficult. aat the lot of americans consider this unskilled labor. this is very skilled labor. this is a person doing multiple things in seconds. >> barbara resendez lives in the area and works in this field with other local harvesters. ah. no good because it's bruised. she's showing me exactly what it takes to do this job. >> i don't know about your back, but mine's already in a lot of pain. >> yeah, i took seven advil. my back, my legs.
>> your pride. >> my pride. >> she says if you were a normal harvester, she would have returned you. >> she's saying send him back? >> yep. tables have turned. how do you like that one? >> these people are paid by piece, by box, and so how much a box? >> it's $2.50 a box. an average harvester is doing 40 or 50 a day. a higher is doing 100. >> a nice chunk of change. if you get a few more boxes a hour, that's a few more dollars. >> the local harvesters pay taxes on their income like any hard working american. a food truck arrives to signal break time and ensures everyone has ax to a meal. >> beautiful, and everything looks so good and fresh.
roasted serranos. we have been up in the other field with some of the other workers who come up with mexico. they were really, really eager to talk to us. a lot of workers here in this field, they're more shy. is that because of what's going on politically in america right now? [ speaking foreign language ] >> estimates are that 50% of our labor force in the food system here in america is undocumented. people are presenting papers they get from somewhere that -- >> yeah. 100% of my employee is documented. >> fair enough. as an employer you're only required to see a couple of pieces of paper from me. >> valid documentation. i'm not immigration to question -- >> you're not the police. >> i'm not. nor do i want to be. >> right.
>> as restaurant owners, jose and i are in the same boat. a little bit of the chili oil. hiring workers, accepting their paper work, and complying with the law. like many businesses, both jose and i use e-verify, an online system that checks employee information to confirm they can work in the united states. >> if you genuinely believe the documents that are given to you, they look to be true, and you send them and they're not telling you anything, but they get the money -- many of those undocumented are coming to
america through their work and through their taxes they pay every single month. >> the vast majority and taking jobs that statistically and quantifiably other americans don't want to do. 12 miles down the road from good farms, just outside of salinas, california, i met up with theresa romero. once an undocumented immigrant from mexico herself, she is now a u.s. citizen and president of the united farm workers of america. the union cofounded by cesar chavez. >> social justice to the worker and his cause. >> all these workers don't want to speak. they don't want to say anything. especially with the atmosphere that is happening right now. they want to be in the shadows, which is exactly what trump wants and is the wrong thing to do. >> what do you think when you
hear those words coming out of our president's mouth? >> it is infuriating. we have people who feed not only democrats or republicans -- men, women -- everybody in this country and the world. these lawmakers are enjoying the fruits and vegetables that are harvests bed by undocumented workers. i would invite all them to come in the fields and work one day to appreciate the contribution of this community. i guarantee you none of them would last a day. >> with the coronavirus raging, the ufw is pleading with farms and government officials to protect these essential workers. >> teachers educate our kids, policemen protect us, farm workers feed us. we feed america. we feed you, and people need to understand that.
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♪ o'er the land of the free ♪ and the home of the brave [ cheers and applause ] i'm one of the nearly 69 million people who attended a major league baseball game in 2019. just imagine how many ballpark snacks we bought. this is target field, the home of my minnesota twins. last year, a low year for attendance, they sold 67,000 pounds of chicken tenders. the amazing thing about this chicken tender isn't how it's cooked or what it's made but
it's made by a very special group of peep in one amazing place in the country. it it says a lot about how america's food winds up on our plate. tyson foods produces 1 in 5 pounds of all chicken sold in the united states, including those chicken tenders i ate at the ball game. this is the very street plant in springdale, arkansas, the company's world headquarters. springdale is a city of nearly 80,000 people, and the name ticen is everywhere. >> look at all those tyson trucks lined up. >> here you go. >> thank you. >> we do about 11 million pounds a chicken a week out of here. >> that's a lot of chicken.
>> i look great in brown. while i've cooked tens of thousands of chickens, this is the first time i'm seeing the hard working people responsible for processing them. it's humbling. tyson employs more than 1,500 workers in springdale. nearly a quarter come from a surprising place. >> we're the largest population of islanders in the country here in springdale. >> and you're the largest employer of marshall islanders outside of the marshall islands. >> correct. >> the marshall islands is made up of more than 1,100 islands in the ocean and atolls, the most famous of which is called bikini.
>> the united states government now wants to attempt to turn this great destructive force into something good for mankind. >> between 1946 and 1958, the united states conducted 23 nuclear weapons tests here. the nuclear fallout affected every aspect of life here -- fishing, farming, health. [ speaking foreign language ] >> in 1986, the united states and the marshall islands entered into the compact of free association. the deal allows the marshallese to live, study, and work and pay taxes in the united states, though they were not granted
american citizenship. a few traded the ocean waves for the freshwater lakes of northwestern, arkansas and jobs at tyson foods. many more followed. english, spanish, marshallese. how long have you been working here? >> ten years. >> and why springdale? what made you come here? >> i think it's easier to live here. raise my family here, have a better life. >> a lot of us come from places
in the marshall islands that perhaps we never had a job. i mean, it's an island life. think about it. >> melissa lalon founded the -- >> on the marshall islands do you have clocks? >> we don't have any clocks. the clock is the sun. you just look at it. >> exactly. >> melissa and i are having lunch at jojo's a recently opened market that specializes in marshall island food. >> look at that. it's gorgeous. >> fish is very common. you eat it with your hands. without places like this where you don't have ax to the authentic food, you're in a way disconnected from your culture. >> then they started coming over here, there were good jobs here. the tyson plant, primarily. >> it's a good thing for them, because now you have document documented -- now we want to be
careful with this -- documented nonimmigrant. >> the term nonimmigrant is important, defining their noncitizen status in the eyes of the government. melissa was able to become a citizen in 2011 through her military service. [ speaking foreign language ] >> amen. >> amen. >> that was very, very sweet. >> really? >> yes. i had no idea what those words meant, zero, but i know exactly what they meant. it's thank you. take care of the people around us. >> you know, we were brought up
to be care givers. >> mm-hmm. >> and we were brought up in a way that everything is shared. >> fishheads simmer in the coconut milk with bread fruit? >> it's really good, huh? >> oh, my god. i had to come to northern arkansas to have green fish and coconut soup? i'm just glad there's a place now the community can gather, kids can come and taste what home is like. if you could wave a magic wand for your community here, what would it be? >> the first wish would be that we have equal access to a lot of things, including medicaid. our children don't have access to the snap program, supplemental nutrition. but we're here documented. pay tax just like anyone else
and still don't have ax ccess ta lot of things. >> 40% of marshallese in the united states live below the poverty line. because of their noncitizen status they cannot access many government programs designed to help the poor, and they don't have to right to vote. i just read a study that several of the islands are still ten times more toxic than the chernobyl site. i can save you... lots of money with liberty mutual! we customize your car insurance so you only pay for what you need! only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪
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♪ my exploration of the communities that feed america has brought my to springdale, arkansas, home to tyson foods. they're a key employer of the largest population of marshallese outside the marshall aisles. they're dee creating a new life here. what dishes are you guys making? >> that one is made from pumpkin. >> see, now we're starting to get interesting here. >> both lucy compel and tie lawin want to become american citizens. >> what's your guilty pleasure american food? >> i will say that it is some
pizza. >> yeah. you're not alone. you're not alone. >> they both need to be sponsored by an adult family member who is also a citizen. >> your siblings are on the fast track because they're in the military. your parents are getting fast tracked because they're in the military. >> i'm waiting for my parents because that's a faster path. if i wait for my children i have to wait another 20 years or so. >> it seems very complex. >> mm. >> what's the most important reason for you that you want to become a citizen? >> i get to use the -- in fact, a few years back we started to encourage our young people to register to vote, because we know the more we vote, the more people will say, oh, they care and want to be part of this community. >> i just read a study that several of the islands are still ten times more toxic than the
chernobyl site. it's a staggering thought. >> i came from one of the island that was affected from the bomb. my family, they have cancer. me too. i already have surgery. here is better than home, but i miss my island, my atoll. >> it's heartbreaking to hear. >> cancer and diabetes related diseases remain the leading cause of death among marshallese. a concrete dome entombed radioactive waste cleaned up in the 1970s, but many of the islands remain inhabitable. rising oceans also threaten to make the marshallese the planet's first climate refugees.
soon there may not be a home to go back to. ♪ [ singing in foreign language ] >> creating a home here in springdale, arkansas s more important than ever. this stroll the atoll festival encourages locals to learn more about marshallese culture. >> what are you making? >> coconut. >> i'm always nervous about trying new things. wow. that is delicious. >> yeah. >> the marshallese contribute to this community and the our country in many ways and pay taxes. sint they don't get to vote, that's taxation without representation. >> is there something specific
the legislature is considering now that would help them become citizens faster? >> at the state level or hands are tied for federal decisions. but something we did this past legislative decision that i'm excited about is extend instate constitution rates to marshallese. even though that's not citizenship, that is expanding opportunity. >> tyson foods also stepped in to help their immigrant work force. >> high school equivalency classes, esl classes, digital literacy and financial literacy. these folks are the backbone of this country. it doesn't happen without them. it's important for us that your team members feel stable, but also welcome. >> when you discuss this, around the country, are people surprised this developed in the corner of northwest, arkansas? >> yeah. >> the pathway to citizenship
issue, that's a tricky road, especially the marshallese. is the company doing anything, your big american corporation, do you lobby d.c.? you have an incredible story to tell. >> i don't know where that will go and whether or not we'll be able to have a larger impact on that conversation or not. >> so why aren't we making the pathway to citizenship easier for the marshallese? they gave up their atolls for the greater good. in return, u.s. military testing destroyed their home. united states leadership means far more than access. it's the underneath to share in the promise of the american dream. we create too many hoops for to you jump through to become citizen to vote and do all the other things necessary. >> that is pretty tough, but i am a soldier and an american and marshallese and nobody will ever take that away from me.
he uses so many immigrants to run these operations. a thought a business personing a successful business person, would understand that. don't bring that mess around here, evan! whoo! don't do it. don't you dare. i don't think so! [ sighs ] it's okay, big fella. we're gonna get through this together. [ baseball bat cracks ] nice rip, robbie. ♪
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jose and i are going up the very escalator he went down to announce his candidacy. >> i am officially running for president of the united states. >> we're going to show you how the restaurant industry really works. >> hey, how are you doing. two for lunch? >> by dining at trump grill we brought in our cell phones and cameras. >> espanol. >> i am from espana. >> where are you from? >> mexico. >> our friendly mexican restaurant take our order. >> i'm going to have the taco bowl. maryland crab cakes. steps away from where trump said
this. >> when mexico sends their people, he's sending their best. >> this caused jose to -- >> he cut his ties with trump in washington, d.c. was in d.c. today. >> in 2015, the trump organization sued for breach of contract. two years later they released a joint statement announcing the lawsuit had been settled. >> he uses so many immigrants to run his operations, i thought, a business person, a successful person, would understand it. and then i thought, well, he'll run on that, on the immigrant rhetoric, hopefully -- maybe now he's president, his rhetoric will change. these guys don't change. i'm highly disappointed. >> it also hasn't changed the fact that immigrants make up the
majority of the staff here, including the head chef. >> where are you from? >> i'm from guyana. >> this isn't unique to trump grill. >> across the country, an estimated 22% of restaurant workers are foreign-born, and restaurants are only the most public facing point of the industry. immigrant labor drives the entire food supply chain. >> ooh. >> oh, my god. >> jumbo lump maryland crab cakes. you can see those nice big pieces of lump in there. >> not bad crab cake. >> very good. >> the journey of maryland crab is a long one, and it starts 227 miles away from here.
trump grill sells maryland crab cakes. maryland crab comes from the chesapeake day. we're looking at one of the most vibrant cultural and culinary elements on the entire eastern seaboard. >> i lived here my entire life, so of course to me it's very special. i think the chesapeake bay is very unique. >> aubrey vincent is the co-o co-owner of a crab processer that's been here for 40 years. >> every maryland house is family run. that's how that product is getting to our table. >> it's the water-borne version of your family farm.
up to 140,000 pounds of crab are steamed, picks, and packed every day. >> when our community -- our last census was 165 people. i hire 105. based on the census every single person would need to be unemployed and interested in this job to fill the job openings. >> there just aren't enough residents to fill the local seasonal job. so the only way you can make it all work from a labor standpoint is how? >> well, the only solution we have been able to find so far is to supplement the american labor we have with the h-2 program. >> there are two kinds of h-2 visas.
h-2a is seasonal with no limit. h-2b is for every other type of work, like crabbing. but the number of visas is capped each year. >> about 26 years ago we started supplementing our american work force with h-2bs during or peak season. >> how has that changed. >> there's been more of a demand for seasonal workers than visas. >> in 2018, american companies applied for three times the available number of visas. the first come, first serve system pits industry against industry work nowhere near enough visas to go around. >> wed to have conversations of, can we say alive? we've loss a lot of family run businesses because they didn't have to labor to keep running because they couldn't turn to this program. >> there is one business that received the foreign worker visas it applied for year after
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these people are paid by the amount of crab that they pick so, you don't want to waste a single bit of meat during the process. every person here is doing around three crabs a minute. you have amazing skill. not only are you very fast, but you're -- >> yes, not too much. just a little. >> people lick ysidra ariana cruz pick crabs for restaurants like trump grill. for the last 28 year she's been coming here from mexico through the h-2b program. >> do you like the system that you have been given or is it your desire to live here in the states permanently?
[ speaking foreign language ] >> she and her coworkers spend eight months away from home. they're not required under the h-2b program. lindy's provides housing for $40 a week located just a short walk from the plant. [ speaking foreign language ] >> that must have been very hard when your children were young to
>> these workers are the lynch pin of tourism to the bay, supplying crab for the $38.5 billion u.s. seafood industry. along with the entire supply chain of haulers and drivers, right down to the 2.3 million foreign-born restaurant workers bringing it all to our tables. a lot of people think that people like you are dangerous. i don't see anything dangerous when i'm talking to immigrants and migrants in america. [ speaking spanish ]