September 28, 2005


Speaking Spanish in a new New Orleans (GREGORY RODRIGUEZ, Sep. 28, 2005, Los Angeles Times)

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.

President Bush has promised that Washington will pick up the greater part of the cost for "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen." To that end, he suspended provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act that would have required government contractors to pay prevailing wages in Louisiana and devastated parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. And the Department of Homeland Security has temporarily suspended sanctioning employers who hire workers who cannot document their citizenship. The idea is to benefit Americans who may have lost everything in the hurricane, but the main effect will be to let contractors hire illegal immigrants.

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."

Because they are young and lack roots in the United States, many recent migrants are ideal for the explosion of construction jobs to come. Those living in the United States will relocate to the Gulf Coast, while others will come from south of the border. Most will not intend to stay where their new jobs are, but the longer the jobs last, the more likely it is that they will settle permanently.

One recent poll of New Orleans evacuees living in Houston emergency shelters found that fewer than half intend to return home. In part, their places will be taken by the migrant workers.

Latino New Orleans will be a vast improvement.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 28, 2005 12:31 PM

Latin immigrants, legal or illegal, are not stupid. They endured and risk much to get here. They, overwhelmingly, seek opportunity for betterment. Sure, they will jump at the chance for construction work opportunities in NO. But whether they remain depends greatly whether they judge the area economically vibrant or stagnant. IF the political,economic, and cultural environment of NO radically shifts away from its stagnant and venal norm, they will stay. If NO reverts, they will leave.

Posted by: Luciferous at September 28, 2005 12:48 PM

Well, it was ruled by the Spanish for fifty or so years in the last half of the 18th Century. Does that make it part of Aztlan?

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at September 28, 2005 2:13 PM

"Latino New Orleans will be a vast improvement"

Good to see how you rank various ethnic and racial groups. Is this because Hispanics commit violent crime at 2.9 times the rate of whites while African-Americans commit violent crime at nearly 7 times the rate the rate of whites? Or is it because Hispanics have a higher rate of school drop outs than African-Americans, thus lessening the neccessary funds devoted to education?

Posted by: h-man at September 28, 2005 3:35 PM

It's because they're Christian and conservative.

Posted by: oj at September 28, 2005 4:15 PM

I think the Hispanics are similar to the Irish, except they may turn Republican(conservative) faster, like OJ says.

Posted by: jdkelly at September 28, 2005 5:49 PM

WHile some here advocate annexing El Gran Blanco Mexico del Norte, I still say we should head south instead. Imagine if we'd just taken the place in the 1840s... Mexico City would be litttle different from Denver or Chicago, and the whole area would be as American as Texas or New Mexico or California. We did a lot of people a great disservice by allowing a quarter-century old country that was already showing itself to be a permanent basket case to continue. It's not to late to fix that mistake.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 28, 2005 8:44 PM

Raoul Ortega:

I agree.

The U.S. should annex Mexico. It'd be win/win, and cost a lot less than it cost West Germany to absorb East Germany.


Bogus stats.

Break it down by race within socioeconomic classes, and then compare.

All we're really seeing are the effects of more blacks and latinos being near the bottom of society.
Whites in the same environments are also violent and commit crimes.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 28, 2005 11:02 PM

Theodore Dalrymple makes just that point.

Posted by: oj at September 28, 2005 11:06 PM