Friday, November 4, 2005
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The immigration wave hits New Orleans
Yesterday Michael Martinez wrote a front-pager for the Chicago Tribune about the influx of Latinos into New Orleans looking for post-Katrina reconstruction work. Today, Leslie Eaton has a similar story in the New York Times.
Some highlights from Eaton's piece:
This is interesting stuff, but for my money, the Martinez piece in the Tribune is of greater interest because of two points not mentioned by Eaton. I've highlighted them below:
This story raises all sorts of uncomfortable questions about immigration, race, and the economy.
For me, the big question remains -- if New Orleans was such a stagnant economy that those displaced to Houston don't want to return, just how much money should be committed to reconstruction efforts?
Over at The Plank, Jason Zengerle castigates the Times and other national outlets for not reporting on Nagin's remarks. Props to Martinez and the Tribune for catching it.posted by Dan on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM
Forgive me Fats Domino, but the lower ninth ward should not be rebuilt. Here are some relevant facts:
* One of the lowest parts of the city
More info here: http://www.gnocdc.org/orleans/8/22/snapshot.html
The property owners should be bought out by the government and their land returned to wetlands to help protect the rest of New Orleans from future hurricanes.
The lower ninth's residents are also 98% african-american, so this might raise political issues. I dunno. I think objectively it makes sense.posted by: PD Shaw on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
The great majority of those "Hispanics" in New Orleans are in fact illegal aliens, including some who crossed recently.
And, a good portion of their earnings will be sent home to Mexico.
And, some of them will be paid out of federal funds.
So, people who don't belong in this country in the first place will take jobs from American hurricane victims, get paid out of American funds, and send some of those funds to their home country.
Alternatively, you could have American citizens rebuilding their own city and spending that federal money right there.
What sort of American would support illegal aliens taking rebuilding jobs from American hurricane victims? If someone thinks that's OK, perhaps they're in the wrong country and they should do some research into their other options.
My coverage of this issue includes 9/12's "Will Bush give Katrina rebuilding jobs... to illegal aliens?" and 10/8's New Orleans jobs and federal funding scandal. Don't worry: Harry Reid is also on the other side, as are "liberals" like Zengerle.
For more, search for "katrina" at the first site and click the "illegal aliens" tag in the right sidebar at the second site.posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
The lower ninth's residents are also 98% african-american, so this might raise political issues. I dunno. I think objectively it makes sense.
This would be funny if it weren't so terribly, terribly sad. Of course it would raise political issues, and it would be used against the GOP for decades, being mentioned alongside slavery, Bull O'Conner, the Tuskegee experiment, and on and on.
So, rather than making this an opportunity to indict "liberal" welfare state policies, the brilliant minds in the Bush administration will have created a lasting rallying cry against the GOP.
It takes a special kind of "conservative" president to make a Louis Farrakhan conspiracy theory come true.
See my suggestion in the comments on the last link in the last comment: really think hard about this one, and think it through.posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
One of the reasons I vacilated on the racial politics of my proposal is that the residents of the lower 9th may actually prefer to be bought out.
One of the interesting things about the lower 9th is that 59% of the houses are owner-occupied. So this is not a situation in which the residents necessarily lose their homes and the landlords profit.
I suspect that many of those living in the lower 9th have moved on. The area had high poverty and high unemployment, but many owned their own homes, often inheritted from parents and grandparents that moved there when there were more jobs. If their homes are gone and they've found jobs elsewhere, they may not want to return.posted by: PD Shaw on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Important though I do think it is to enforce the nation's immigration laws, I am a little reluctant to do so by pounding away at the immigrants themselves, who are -- most of them anyway, just trying to make a living.
At the same time I don't blame Nagin for protesting against very rapid demographic change. This will almost always be disruptive and resented by the citizens in an area that receives a sudden influx of new residents who do not speak the language and who are many of them there in defiance of the law. It's not the job of elected officials to tell people they are wrong about things like this.
Inasmuch as a good deal of reconstruction work on the Gulf Coast is being done by larger companies or their subcontractors I don't think it is asking too much for them to verify that the people they hire are in the country legally. I understand that as some of these companies are run by people who have given money to the President's campaigns this is not an idea he may want to emphasize. Since none of them have given any money to me I don't see any harm in mentioning it.posted by: Zathras on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
The contractors cannot ask if the worker is legal or not. Ask the liberals and the ACLU about this.posted by: Harold on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
I've asked myself the same question. As a Houstonian and one of the many thousands who volunteered our time to help out, I am entitled to voice my opinion on this without being labeled a racist.
I see many young men who don't appear to be doing much. Why can't they be doing the work? Maybe this doesn't jibe with conservative ideas, but I was hoping back in September that the President would start a mini WPA program for New Orleans. Feed, clothe and house young men and women from New Orleans in WPA-style camps. Give them a highly organized environment, with most of their pay going back to their relatives in places like Houston and Atlanta and Baton Rouge. Get some retired Army general to run it.
I think Bush missed a good opportunity to instill discipline and work ethic for a city that sorely needed it. There is no reason illegals, hard working they may be, should be doing this when we have a large pool of available labor that is currently loafing around living off the taxpayer.posted by: Lou Minatti on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
PD, when I was working down at Reliant Park I talked with many of the evacuees. I can tell you from first hand conversations that very few people will be going back.
Black folks were very bitter about New Orleans and did NOT speak of it in longing tones. This bitterness has nothing to do with the Nagin/Blanco/FEMA fiasco. It is a bitterness that has existed for decades. Despite its charms as a fun place to get drunk in a vaguely European setting, most of New Orleans was a racist cesspool with a lousy school system, corrupt police, inept government and no job opportunities. Tourists rarely saw this. All they saw was the French Quarter, casinos and The Cat's Meow.
Why should they go back?posted by: Lou Minatti on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Detroit has as much of a claim to a massive federal reconstruction effort as the Big Easy. While New Orleans was devastated by a single act of nature, Detroit has suffered a death by a thousand cuts, losing nearly half of its population over the past 40 years. While not nearly as dramatic as the devastation wrought by Katrina, the slow demise of the Motor City is as deserving as of federal restoration as is New Orleans... which is to say that neither city should become recipients of federal largess.
Rather, given the plentiful tracts of abandoned property in Detroit (estimated to exceed the size of San Francisco), a sounder option would be to offer New Orleaners who have no desire to return to their city the opportunity to acquire these vacant tracts of land in Detroit provided they take affirmative action to improve the property. This would solve the dilemma of returning citizens to a flood plane while infusing Detroit with a new populace that might enjoy some of the optimistic spirit of the Crescent City.
Bring back a new Homestead Act!!!posted by: Trajan on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
I am a little reluctant to do so by pounding away at the immigrants themselves
Great! Let's not do that. There are two ways to do that: a) keep them from coming here in the first place, and b) read my links. My concern is with the corrupt politicians and businesses and with the larger issue of yet another anti-American Bush scheme.
That would be the American thing to do. Unfortunately, Bush appears to have some problems in that department, prefering instead the "free" market in which the aforementioned contributors get large contracts and then their sub-subcontractors allegedly employ "kind-hearted folks" to work cheap while living and working in unsafe conditions.posted by: Illegal immigration news on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
"This would be funny if it weren't so terribly, terribly sad. Of course it would raise political issues, and it would be used against the GOP for decades, being mentioned alongside slavery, Bull O'Conner, the Tuskegee experiment, and on and on."
First of all, it's Bull Connor not Bull O'Conner. Second, Bull Connor was a DEMOCRAT and a member of the DMC. You have to be pretty lazy, ignorant and biased not to take 5 seconds to google Bull Connor to see what side of the aisle he hailed from.
Third, Abraham Lincoln ended slavery. Lincoln was a republican (the first republican president). Where do you get off landing slavery and Connor on the GOP? Go read a book.posted by: Infide on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
If Bush can tell 12 million illegals they can ignore the law, why should any of us obey the law?
Illegal aliens get more deference than American citizens and taxpayers. Good God!posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Thanks for the input, Infide, but I don't think you understand what I'm getting at. I also don't think you understand how, for instance, Dems play the race game. Here's an example. "But, they're wrong!" Infide screams. Well, sorry, it doesn't really matter if enough people believe it.posted by: Illegal immigration news on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
If illegal aliens can find these clean up jobs and get hired for them, why cannot the stuck in Baton Rouge evacuees also find them? Housing is not the issue, the illegals are being housed.Distance is not the issue, obviously, either. We are not talking skilled jobs here, so the answer is the evacuees do not want these jobs. If the evacuees have found other jobs, no problem, if they have not and are living off other people's money they have no complaint and the mayor should be happy that those uninterested in working have been replaced by those who do want to work.posted by: Kate yost on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
As a long time resident of Los Angeles, which has a Mexican population exceeded only by that in Mexico City, let me comment on the "Hispanics" doing the work that native Americans would do if only.....if only what?
I've hired at least a hundred guys who hang out around lumber yards and paint stores and no matter how you slice it, the Blacks don't show up there or anywhere else. I needed some guys very early one morning and I had to ask the two black security guards when the day laborers showed up. They were dismissive of the Hispanics willing to work; they looked down on them; a couple of wandering Blacks also contributed to the marginalization of the Hispanics looking for work. Once, in a display of patriotism, I decided to hire only American workers to lay cement for me. Never again. All they did was complain and their work was shit. It is my experience, shared by a hell of a lot of other people, that the Mexican and Central American work force is very hard working, eager to work, and far far better than the "Americans" supposedly willing to do the jobs. New Orleans now has a far better work force than they had before.
One other comment: New Orleans was nothing but bars, whore houses, pimps, whores, sleazy night clubs, strip joints, and crooked politicians and police. What's to rebuild? Let it die.posted by: Howard Veit on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Well I lived in Houston for nearly 20 years, and I learned 2 things about Mexican workers during that time: They are very hard-working, and they'll do almost anything you ask of them. The notion that they are "taking jobs from American hurricane victims" is as bogus as a 3-dollar bill. I share all the concerns others have about gaining control of our borders, but if the American hurricane victims are fretting in any real way that "their" jobs are being stolen by immigrants, we're not seeing any sign of it. The only people worried about it are the race hucksters, and they aren't doing anything but yelling for the benefit of the MSM. If (when?) the whole thing becomes political, it won't be the fault of the people who've moved down there to do the actual work. And if anyone thinks fat-cat Republican donor-owned companies are the ones cleaning up on this, they need to check out the Shaw Group. Shaw is firmly in the pocket of the LA Democrat machine and has been for many years, and they are profiting mightily at the moment.posted by: betsybounds on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
As to the description of New Orleans as a "racist cesspool", New Orleans is (or was) an 80% black city whose mayor, city council majority, school board majority, police chief and most of the police force have been black for decades. White input in the political process has been limited to vetoing the worst candidate. There is a lot of black racism, but that's clearly not what the poster was referring to.
I was discussing the Mexican influx with a black lawyer friend, native and well-connected, in our local jazz bar the other night, asking why the locals couldn't come back and take these jobs. His answer was that they wouldn't come back unless housing was provided for them and their families. Blacks would not live dormitory style as the Mexicans are doing in motels apartments, nor would they commute for hours, often in the back of a pickup--too demeaning.
We don't need "families"--an amusing concept in itself in a city with illegitimacy pushing 90%, we need workers right now.
And I have heard from several acquaintances whose homes did not flood that they won't be back because they've got a year of free FEMA rent,a better job, and their kids are in the first decent schools they've ever had.posted by: Steve Williamson on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
P.S. Can you imagine the hue and cry that would be raised if WPA-style camps were set up for displaced African-Americans, and they were moved into them to work on clean-up and rebuilding? Racism! Bondage! Slavery! CAN YOU JUST IMAGINE???posted by: betsybounds on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
I agree with Kate Yost: "If illegal aliens can find these clean up jobs and get hired for them, why cannot the stuck in Baton Rouge evacuees also find them?"
Socialist college professors have spread the idea of "fair wages" that people somehow deserve. That's just a way of saying the government must force some people and firms to pay others a certain amount of money.
And the only reason these people are "illegal" in the first place is because the law is desperately unjust. When dissidents spoke out against the communists in USSR, I didn't hear the right rebuke them for illegal activities.
Using "illegal" as a base rather than using morality as a base is disingenuous.posted by: Tired Immigrant on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Part of what factors into the equation of rebuilding New Orleans or how much money to put into this effort is the Port of South Louisiana. The reason the reconstuction is being considered on any large scale at all is that port and its economic importance to the country. So it's not simply a matter of whether the people who lived there will want to come back and how good or bad the local economy was (bad BTW). There will be a port in the area, and therefore there will be a city of some size. Given that, one hopes that the money from US taxpayers will be well spent. I'm very worried it won't be. At least I see no signs of anything thoughtful happening yet.
As for Detroit taking in the displaced of New Orleans. I grew up in New Orleans and live in the Detroit area now. I think such a concept would be great for New Orleans and terrible for Detroit. Detroit does not need thousands more unemployed people.posted by: Barry D on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Immigrant work gangs are generally recruited by large services companies. These companies, in turn, use work gangers who tend to hire cousins, uncles, brothers, sons, people from their own village, etc. The large services companies like the system because it allows them to pay very low wages and, to some extent, avoid taxes. Plus they have a workforce they know will put up with miserable conditions. The end result is that Americans are frozen out of these jobs. I have personally seen a similar process take place in the Southern California construction industry.
I am afraid for people like Katy and tired immigrant, America is just a shell, a giant day labor site. Well, for me, and many others like me, America is a country with a culture and a history and people bound up with both. New Orleans is one of the places in America that exemplifies this. It will be too bad if greed of employers and self-righteousness on the part of libertarians and immigrants advocates allows yet another uniquely American city become a colony of foreignersposted by: charles martel on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Did you pay employment taxes, FICA, etc. on those you employed? Did you check their documentation? What exactly did you 'need' them for? Is your business so marginal that you 'need' people a day at a time?
If you didn't pay into workers comp, state unemployment etc. What would happen if one of your 'employees' injured themselves on the job. We know, of course, the taxpayer funded emergency room would handle it. Just as taxpayers are paying for the kids the illegals have, the schools they go to, etc.
Employers of illegals are freeriders on the rest of us.posted by: charles martel on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Anecdote: In a resort communtity in the Florida panhandle hit by a hurricane last year, all of the nearby construction companies were quickly tied up in long-term contracts with the biggest property management company. The smaller, independent properties lay unrepaired for want of labor. A frequent guest of one of the smaller operations offered to bring down his construction crew from Birmingham. They arrived, appearing somewhat ethnic, and within a week the crew was picked up by immigration.
And round the decay of that colossal wreck, the lone and level sands stretch far away.posted by: PD Shaw on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
I live around New Orleans, and one thing in "The New York Times" piece that's flat-out not true is that there are Louisiana workers willing to do the job that the "illegals" are doing. Complete bullsh*t.
This unwillingness is not confined to clean-up jobs. Most retail and fast food joints around here are running on limited hours simply because they can't get people to work. And it's a problem in spite of, for example, a $3,000 signing bonus offered to take a part-time job at Burger King.posted by: Brian Moore on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Charles Martel, I understand your concern about "yet another uniquely American city becom[ing] a colony of foreigners": Imagine if a terrible thing like that happened to New York, or San Francisco, or Chicago, or Boston! Or Miami, or Philadelphia! Or worse yet, if a Southern city were taken over by a population of Caribbean types and French-speaking Canadians. Wouldn't that be just awful?
a sounder option would be to offer New Orleaners who have no desire to return to their city the opportunity to acquire these vacant tracts of land in Detroit provided they take affirmative action to improve the property.
Yeah- that'll work. What did these poor people ever do to deserve being exiled to Detroit? Detroit emptied out for a reason-posted by: JoeDonut on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Much of Detroit's population loss was due to a mass emmigration to the supposed paradise of the Gulf Coast states who offer winter weary northerners their "idylic" climates. Now that we have seemingly entered a new stage of tropical storms, perhaps many would reconsider this choice and be willing to make a tradeoff for a bit of cold for the certainty that their homes will not be demolished by mother nature each summer. Of course, if the taxpayers continue have to foot the bill for rebuilding in these areas, why would any one make the logical choice to get out of Dodge???
As a Detroiter, it galls me knowing that once again, my tax dollars will be flowing south to finance the most recent debacle. First, we had to bail the S&Ls. Now, we have to spend billions to reconstruct homes and businesses located directly in the paths of some of the most destructive forces in nature. Its bad enough that I have to deal with frigid temperatures half the year but couldn't you folks down South at least allow me to keep some of my own dollars to pay for my ever-increasing heating bills?!?
"And the only reason these people are "illegal" in the first place is because the law is desperately unjust. When dissidents spoke out against the communists in USSR, I didn't hear the right rebuke them for illegal activities.
Using "illegal" as a base rather than using morality as a base is disingenuous."
I'd love to see that one expanded upon.posted by: Cutler on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
One thing nobody's touched on is that it's not just a matter of bringing Orleanians back in to do the cleanup work, it's bringing them and their families. Families means children, and children need schools. Every parent with half a brain knows that letting their kids grow up without getting an education is sacrificing their futures. Yeah, I know, some idiot parents know that and let it happen anyway, but the responsible ones, the ones we WANT back in New Orleans, will not be willing to do that.
My understanding is that with a large number of illegal immigrant workers, maybe the majority, this isn't an issue because they leave their kids behind and send back home the wages they earn to support them. They don't have to worry about schools up here, as their kids are in school down there.
But at the moment, there are no functioning schools in New Orleans. Responsible parents can't take their families back there.
BTW, for those who say New Orleans is nothing but whorehouses and strip bars, you can believe that only if 1) you've been to New Orleans and never left the French Quarter, or 2) you've never been to New Orleans and believe uncritically everything you read.posted by: Steve Teeter on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Some of the comments above could have been written by Vicente Fox himself.
According to the libertarian types above, New Orleans residents (mostly African-American) are lazy, shiftless bums.
And, it's much better that they stay in Baton Rouge, Atlanta, or even further afield and collect FEMA money than that they should be encouraged to go back to NO. In fact, when we build FEMA Cities, we should just warehouse them there.
So, these "American" "libertarians" support the Feds paying for that. And, they support the Feds paying for the cleanup and a portion of that money flowing to Mexico's corrupt oligarchy. And, they support the creation of yet another profit and political power center for the Mexican government inside the U.S.
Unless you're willing to do what it takes to support American workers who should and could be doing this work, please make the move. You don't belong here.posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Or worse yet, if a Southern city were taken over by a population of Caribbean types and French-speaking Canadians
My Dearest Froward -- I assume you are speaking of the Acadians and other peoples in New Orleans, and I assume you are being ironic. But you make my point. New Orleans, for its many many faults, was unique in large part because its founding peoples remained such a large influence and large part of the population, especially when one includes the surrounding parishes.
And yes, I think its pretty awful that, for example, San Francisco, a city with a good mix of peoples historically but always always a strong old stock yankee element has now become 50% Chinese (okay, I'm exagerating, but not much).posted by: charles martel on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
I wouldn't describe New Orleans economy as stagnant. Major indutries in NO include those everyone seems to know about: tourism, shipping, and petroleum refining. Other include:
- NASA vehicle assembly plant that employs 2,000;
Those industries are, of course, supported by rail and trucking industries.
Many former NOLA residents may describe the economy as stagnant simply because their skills, or lack of skills, did not meet the requirements of NOLA's industry.posted by: JohnDewey on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
"...they support the Feds paying for the cleanup and a portion of that money flowing to Mexico's corrupt oligarchy. And, they support the creation of yet another profit and political power center for the Mexican government inside the U.S."
Remittances flow directly into Mexican households with Mexicans working in the U.S. [The Mexican government does not directly tax these resources] How is "Mexico's corrupt oligarchy" supposed to be benefiting from those resources? Shouldn't those resources make it easier for Mexicans who stayed back home to engage upon independent political activities, as opposed to clientelistic exchanges? Furthermore, do you think President Fox epitomizes a corrupt oligarchy? From what I have heard, Fox heads an overall honest and democratic administration at the federal level - it is the PRI, a party Fox ousted in 2000, that epitomized a corrupt oligarchy not exactly keen on democracy.
Does migration and the remittances that flow back truly mean that corruption/under-development will be in place in Mexico? Or quite the opposite?
I don't think these matters are obvious ones.
Hope more evidence, and less ranting, will populate the comments section of this blog.
posted by: A hopefully reasonable voice on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Saw reports today that illegals are working and then not getting paid, and of course have no recourse.
When we enforce the law this selectively the result will always be problems.
Always.posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Hmmm... These "illegals" sound to me like precisely the kind of hard-working Americans I like. They sound like "keepers" to me.
Let's just give 'em papers. Voila!, the "illegal immigration problem" is solved.posted by: LaurenceB on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Residents of NO aren't supposed to return unless they have job prospects and a place to live.
Illegals get housing (bad as it may be) from the work bosses who ship them into NO.
In other words, it is better to work for a scofflaw work boss than get entangled in the federal and state bureaucracy.
Is this a great country or what?posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
Let's just give 'em papers. Voila!, the "illegal immigration problem" is solved.
Okay LB, tell you what. Let's move them into your neighborhood where they crowd 4 families to a dwelling, overwhelm the public schools with their kids (talking valuable resources from your own kids), bankrupt the county health system (see the example of LA) because their employers don't pay health insurance, increase the crime rate (although admittedly in the New Orleans case this might not be happening, high bar to set) , crowd out the natives from local parks on holidays leaving trash everywhere after finish their picnics, and I could go on and on.
BTW I think somebody seriously needs to do a study on the old 'hard-working immigrant' trope. I think this partially comes from contractors who love the fact they can pick up two or three people a day at a time, no paperwork, no taxes, no unemployment comp. But I also think it comes from just having 5 guys doing what 2 would normally do and thus creating an image of a flurry of activity. At the end of any carwash in California you can see a half dozen illegals ready to wipe down the car's windows. Naturally it looks like a lot of activity when a car emerges and they all run up to it. But I seriously doubt it is very efficent or productive. Likewise the guys with the leafblowers that used to plague my neighborhood in California. Man, I don't think I have ever seen such inefficiency in trying to clean up a few leaves.posted by: charles martel on 11.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]
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