The Alaska fishing industry tests the metal of American workers. Anyone who has watched “The Deadliest Catch” can appreciate the extraordinary demands of shipboard labor in the North Pacific. Not only crabbers but trawlers, longliners and processors are subjected to long hours in an environment more stressful than any encountered elsewhere in the civilian workplace. Yet they return each fishing season to Dutch Harbor, a port at the extremity of human habitation, to board vessels to be buffeted by the forces of nature for weeks and months at a time, while they engage in strenuous labor in lengthy shifts punctuated only by brief opportunities to retire to a cramped bunk in a tiny stateroon for a few hours rest.
Among Alaska fishermen, those whose native language is Spanish are notable for their grit, determination and resourcefulness. Without ethnic stereotyping, it is still fair to say that Hispanics are among the most diligent and dedicated shipboard employees in the Bering Sea.
At Anderson Carey Alexander, we have represented hundreds of injured seamen, including dozens of immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Our Latino clients have been among the most deserving of our considerable efforts on their behalf. They have often been first generation immigrants who came to the U.S. in search of opportunity, just as others have done for centuries. Some have sent money home to their native lands to support parents, spouses and children. Others have been able to establish households in the U.S. and support their children’s quest for education and advancement. When Hispanic fishermen have met with misfortune, we have been proud to assist them in securing fair and just compensation for their injury claims.
In our view, Latino immigrants are a boon to our culture and economy. We applaud measures to protect them from discrimination and to help those who are willing to engage in an orderly process to achieve legal immigration status.
The U.S. Supreme Court has just spoken on the subject of immigration law. In Arizona v. United States, decided yesterday, the Court struck down provisions of an Arizona statute which conflicted with federal law. The decision makes it clear that the federal government has the primary role on immigration.
We urge those in the fishing industry, who benefit from the tenacity and dedication of immigrant workers, to support candidates for federal office who propose a workable and honorable path to citizenship for all Latino immigrants.