April 14, 2006


Immigrants join "gold rush" for jobs rebuilding New Orleans (Sam Quinones, 4/14/06, Los Angeles Times)

As the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina receded in September, the roads filled with residents leaving the city, their vehicles jammed with what they had salvaged of their lives.

But another mass movement was taking place on the other side of the highways.

Thousands of men from Mexico and Central America were driving into the city. Word had spread among Hispanic immigrants that New Orleans had plenty of work, construction wages had doubled to $16 an hour and no one was asking for papers.

"It was like a gold rush," said Oscar Calanche, a Guatemalan immigrant who lived in New Orleans before the storm and returned as soon as waters receded. "In one car there'd be three up front and three or four in the back, with suitcases and tools on top. It looked like a river of people from our countries."

Hispanic workers have gutted, roofed and painted houses, and hauled away garbage, debris and downed trees. Illegal immigrants have installed trailers to house returning evacuees at New Orleans City Park, their pay coming from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) subcontractors.

"It's all illegals doing this work," said Rey Mendez, a FEMA trailer subcontractor from Honduras.

That's what happens when natives won't get their hands dirty, as the natives are well aware, In Polls, Illegal Immigrants Are Called Burden (MARJORIE CONNELLY, 4/14/06, NY Times)
[A] Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll found 63 percent of the respondents supported an approach that combined tougher enforcement of immigration laws along with a program of temporary work visas for illegal immigrants, while 30 percent would rather see the focus on tougher enforcement alone. The public is divided on whether illegal immigrants should be allowed to apply for permits to stay and work. In the CBS News poll, 49 percent said illegal immigrants should be allowed to apply, and 43 percent opposed the idea.

But that poll found 74 percent in favor of giving legal status to those who have lived in the United States for at least five years, if they can speak English, pay a fine and any back taxes and have no criminal record. Twenty-three percent of those polled opposed that approach.


Posted by Orrin Judd at April 14, 2006 6:37 AM

Pay enough & natives will do the work.

Posted by: sharon at April 14, 2006 6:55 AM

Pay enough and there is no work. Of course, nativists would happily tank the economy to get rid of the brown folk.

Posted by: oj at April 14, 2006 7:06 AM

It's not just the pay, Sharon. We natives have conditioned ourselves to live in as optimal conditions as possible. NOLA after Katrina (and even now) are far from optimal.

These guys are living, literally, in squalor while they gut homes and repair roofs.

Posted by: Brad S at April 14, 2006 8:22 AM

BTW, $16/hour in coastal Louisiana and Mississippi is more than 50% above the local prevailing wage for construction pre-Katrina. And that was in a market that beforehand had hardly any Hispanic labor.

Posted by: Brad S at April 14, 2006 8:25 AM

On a drive Thursday I heard Sean Hannity play a tape of John McCain telling immigration opponents he'd pay them $50 an hour if they could last a full harvest season picking lettuce in te Yuma, Ariz., area. Hannity derided that challenge, but when you look at the average high temperatures in Yuma during the period from May through October, the challenge becomes a lot more daunting in these days of universal air-conditioning.

Posted by: John at April 14, 2006 9:55 AM

I picked tobacco for a season when I was in high school. That was in Connecticut, where the temperatures were nowhere near Yuma. If the illegals want to do it, let 'em.

Posted by: Bryan at April 14, 2006 11:54 AM

The charge that natives won't work these jobs is disingenuous. Illegals make up only 3% of ag workers in California. That means somebody legal is doing. it And I find the argument that we can't pay more for legals to do the work because it would tank the economy is equally disingenuous. What you're saying is, screw our laws, screw the guy who can't protect his property on the border from illegals crossing, screw the taxes going up and services strained to deal with illegal aliens. We need them to work for nothing so you can have a big house cheap.

Posted by: sharon at April 14, 2006 11:57 AM

I get tired of the "jobs Americans won't do" trope.

Lettuce picking is one thing -- migrant labor's been handling that job for decades (especially in the Southwest), well before the immigration swell of the last thirty years. And you can bring up slaughterhouses and other acmes of workplace unpleasantness for examples of jobs "Americans won't do", but the proportion of the immigrant community actual doing that kind of labor is pretty small.

There are plenty of Americans who would love to do construction work -- and in fact enjoy physical labor of many different kinds. And cheap immigrant labor drives them out of the market. I get the idea that a lot of people who post on this board have a casual contempt for such Americans.

The fact is (certainly is here in Atlanta) that if you are an American citizen, Black White or whatever, you are instantly at a disadvantage if you want to do this kind of work because there is an illegal immigrant who will always be willing to work for cheaper than you are. (And I shouldn't have to point out, but will anyway, that I don't blame the immigrants one whit for doing it for cheap).

Basic economics, you say. Of course!! It's just natural competition!! They're willing to work for cheaper than you. So sad, too bad. Go to college and get a respectable job.

But it's the result of a rigged market. Employers get to exploit cheap illegal immigrant labor. They also get to tell American who want to do the work to take a hike. It really irks me that OJ and others who post here are apparently okay with this.

(By the way, this particular labor scenario only works so long as the immigrants remain illegal. As soon as they become legal, you've got to bring in somebody new who isn't. This is just a stupid way to run things.)

I'm not stating this in opposition to immigration per se, towards which my basic attitude is that it should be regulated, regularized and streamlined (and that we should implement vigorous assimilationist policies).

The system as it stands is manifestly unjust to the immigrants and to Americans. And I really don't appreciate the way some people are willing to dismiss the very substantial number of Americans who are affected by this because they actually do want to take "jobs Americans won't do". Are they "nativists" or racists because they resent not being to do work they are willing to do because there's somebody who's in the country illegally who prices them out of the market, and can only price them out of the market because they're illegal? Give me a break.

(New Orleans, btw, is a special case - the devastation is unprecedented & demand for labor instantly outstripped native supply)

OJ, I know, thinks that Hispanics will restore America to moral and social sanity (in which I bet he'll be dissapointed -- I suspect Hispanics will become pretty thoroughly American, which is to say, dissapointing to OJ). So he's okay with as many as can pack in, illegal or no. But, having known a lot of Americans who do or did "jobs Americans won't do" and either lost their jobs or had to change professions (to something they really didn't enjoy doing) because of illegal labor, I get a little offended at how the issue is dismissed.

Posted by: Twn at April 14, 2006 12:52 PM

"Arrival of aliens ousts US workers" 4/10 Washington Times


Posted by: alene at April 14, 2006 2:43 PM


Bingo! Having them do our grunt work cheap enables the white middle class to live a more prosperous lifestyle.

Posted by: oj at April 14, 2006 6:34 PM

Jamaican farm workers invade Vermont in late summer and fall. At least they did up until about 18 years ago when we left. This has been going on for decades. I have no idea if there are enough natives to do the job, but if there are, they sure haven't shown up to work.

As long as able-bodied people receive welfare, there's no reason for them to seek a job. I believe that's what's meant by there are jobs Americans won't do. They won't do them because they don't have to. Remove welfare, and see what happens.

Posted by: erp at April 14, 2006 7:02 PM

Having them do our grunt work enables us to provide them with services through our tax dollars.

Posted by: sharon at April 14, 2006 7:14 PM

Opposite. They're funding your SS, not their own.

Posted by: oj at April 14, 2006 7:18 PM

They may fund my SS (not, since they are usually paid in cash), but I AM funding their schools, hospitals, etc. Kick em out.

Posted by: sharon at April 15, 2006 10:35 AM

Erp: Would that it were so simple!

Much of the the underclass would turn to pillage before honest work upon the withholding of the internal Danegeld.

The transfer payment system which bids against the damand for labor now filled by illegal immigrants is most pervasive. It includes not only those who receive the handouts but also those who trade with them.

Do not dare to stop paying for peace before you are ready to pay for war: more police, more prisons, more walls.

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 15, 2006 12:45 PM


Nope, they generally pay taxes just like you but don't get them back in services the way you do.

Posted by: oj at April 15, 2006 12:53 PM

No, OJ. They don't pay taxes like I do. I pay far more in taxes than they do and then I have to pay for their services as well. They are illegal. Send em back.

Posted by: sharon at April 15, 2006 3:45 PM


That's quite wrong. You're being ignorant. You'll get back more than you ever paid in SS taxes--they get none. Objectively, you should be deported if we're targetting freeloading.

Posted by: oj at April 15, 2006 10:58 PM

OJ, we're deporting people who are illegal. I am not illegal. I have a birth certificate to prove it. The illegals have nothing other than ignoramuses like you trying to defend illegal immigration.

Posted by: sharon at April 16, 2006 5:34 PM

actually, the figure i read was that illegals currently are a net $10b cost to the u.s. taxpayer, and that figure would explode if they had universal access to benefits and services.

Posted by: toe at April 16, 2006 6:04 PM


That figure is the one nativists toss around and even so is trivial in a $2.6 Trillion budget.

Posted by: oj at April 16, 2006 10:58 PM


Ah, so much for the free-loader argument now that you realize you're one and they aren't. If it's just a matter of legality let's by all means legalize them.

Posted by: oj at April 16, 2006 11:01 PM

OJ, they are freeloaders. They take advantage of our systems to get everything they can, including money to send back to their relatives. Toe pointed out that they cost $10 billion, and you want to dismiss that argument because it's not "significant" enough for you. I bet most taxpayers think $10 billion is a lot of money. More to the point, I'm not a freeloader and even if I was, I'm still legal. They aren't. Kick em out.

Posted by: sharon at April 17, 2006 5:10 PM


No, you'll get much more in SS checks than you ever pay in, so in fact are a freeloader. It's all perfectly legal, it just makes the argument that they are the taxeaters asinine.

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2006 5:18 PM

I doubt I will ever get $10 billion in SS benefits. And you are assuming I will live long enough to enjoy more SS benefits than I put in, something my mother, who died at 58, never got. It's not asinine to say illegal aliens are mooching off the rest of us. What's asinine is that you try so hard to defend them mooching off the rest of us.

Posted by: sharon at April 18, 2006 10:24 AM


Indeed, natives will consume the illegals contribution and much more. We are the moochers.

Posted by: oj at April 18, 2006 6:24 PM

Sorry you don't want to concede that illegals depress wages and consume government resources better used elsewhere, not to mention issues like housing code violations, assimilation, etc. It STILL boils down to they are illegal. Kick 'em out.

Posted by: sharon at April 19, 2006 5:14 AM


Exactly, which is why we should just admit them legally and then there's no problem, right?

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2006 7:48 AM

We do admit lots of people legally. The problem is, the illegals don't want to wait their turn like everyone else does or pass the requirements to become an American citizen.

Posted by: sharon at April 19, 2006 1:16 PM

Quite, so just make them all legal if illegality is the problem.

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2006 1:24 PM

Nope. That just encourages more illegality. Didn't you learn anything from the amnesty in the 1980s? Maybe in the Northeast, it looks like a good idea. But here in Tejas, I'm not crazy about the "Viva, Mexico!" rallies held here and the people talking about Reconquista.

Posted by: sharon at April 19, 2006 5:22 PM

If they're legal how are they illegal?

Honest of you to acknowledge though that it's just a matter of too many Mexicans for your taste.

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2006 5:30 PM