Thursday, October 06, 2005

Meet the New Orleanians

The respected Christian Science Monitor casually makes the following statement in an article Post-Katrina easing of labor laws stirs debate of Oct. 4:

At a time when Latino immigrants are expected to form a big part of the Gulf Coast reconstruction labor pool, the Department of Homeland Security has temporarily suspended sanctioning employers who hire workers unable to prove their citizenship, essentially allowing contractors to hire undocumented workers.

"Katrina is producing a large demand for undocumented workers," says Mr. Bustamante, a professor at Notre Dame University in Indiana. "That's why they're bending the rules. But then once the job is done, it's back in the shadows. The hypocrisy is astounding."


A Los Angeles Times contributor offeres this observation in a piece titled La Nueva Orleans:

NO MATTER WHAT ALL the politicians and activists want, African Americans and impoverished white Cajuns will not be first in line to rebuild the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast and New Orleans. Latino immigrants, many of them undocumented, will. And when they're done, they're going to stay, making New Orleans look like Los Angeles. It's the federal government that will have made the transformation possible, further exposing the hollowness of the immigration debate.

Mexican and Central American laborers are already arriving in southeastern Louisiana. One construction firm based in Metairie, La., sent a foreman to Houston to round up 150 workers willing to do cleanup work for $15 an hour, more than twice their wages in Texas. The men — most of whom are undocumented, according to news accounts — live outside New Orleans in mobile homes without running water and electricity. The foreman expects them to stay "until there's no more work" but "there's going to be a lot of construction jobs for a really long time."


If there is a single working poor southerner in Katrina's path--black or white--who doesn't understand that your government in Washington doesn't care about you--this should seal the deal.

As long as the oil is flowing and the port is open and the tourists come back, well, you might have lived, you might have died. What do they care? Take your $2,000 and shut up and be grateful.

If this is what America has come to, then the American experiment has failed.

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"And when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcome, but when we are silent we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive." -- Audie Lorde

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