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Michael Martinez, the Chicago Tribune, and illegal aliens taking rebuilding jobs

Michael Martinez of the Chicago Tribune reports on the scandal in New Orleans where illegal aliens are taking jobs from American hurricane victims.
The article is called "Big Easy uneasy about migrant wave" and, as you might expect, the only scandal they report on is that illegal aliens might be having trouble taking those jobs.
The article doesn't attempt to hide that these workers came here illegally and from Mexico.
And, we're told that this is "straining ethnic tolerance". Perhaps the Hispanic reporter is a bit confused. If there's "intolerance", perhaps it's because those illegal aliens are taking jobs that should be done by Americans. And, they're undercutting those wages that Americans could and should be earning:

[An illegal alien] expressed astonishment when told of Mayor Nagin's remarks ["How do I make sure New Orleans is not overrun with Mexican workers?"].
"It's bad for him to say that because we're here to work and help put the city back together," Salas said as he took a break from asking contractors for work. "There's a lot of work here, but the Americans and the blacks are asking for a lot of money to work."

So, faced with a statement that illegal aliens are undercutting American workers, what does the reporter do? Absolutely nothing.
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AP mentions illegal aliens doing rebuilding in negative sense

The AP reports on the Davis-Bacon reinstatement in "Bush administration to reinstate prevailing wages on Katrina contracts" by David Hammer. There, way, way, way down in the 14th paragraph, comes a slight bit of truth:

Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Mary Landrieu, D-La., said a Democratic Policy Committee hearing they held earlier this month had an impact by highlighting abuses of the wage law suspension. In some cases, contractors were hiring undocumented workers, they said.

They're actually illegal aliens, but we congratulate the AP on offering a slight bit of truth to their readers.

"Labor's Hurricane George"

From Froma Harrop:

New Orleans offers a quick study of Bush labor policy in action: On Aug. 29, Hurricane Katrina strikes, causing widespread destruction. Four days later, President Bush commits $10.1 billion of the taxpayers' money to rebuilding New Orleans. Four days after that, he suspends the Davis-Bacon Act - the law that requires federal contractors to pay workers the going local rate.
Illegal immigrants, willing to work at less-than-prevailing wages, stream into New Orleans. And a mere six weeks after the last evacuee leaves the Superdome, we hear of complaints by illegal workers that employers are stiffing them of their meager pay.
So here you have it, a lesson on how to crush the market for blue-collar labor. And it could have been done in four PowerPoint slides...
There's only one sane explanation of why Bush would try to lower wages in a tight labor market: He intended all along to flood the market with cheap foreign workers.
It's a simple setup: (1) Get rid of Davis-Bacon, so contractors can offer below-market pay that Americans and legal immigrants won't touch; (2) continue to disregard the law that forbids companies to hire undocumented workers; (3) when people complain that the workers restoring New Orleans are not legal, say that they are taking jobs no American wants.
The one price that may never rise, in the Bush mindset, is the price of labor. Companies must cope with rising costs for energy, drugs or land. If they can't deal with it, they go out of business. But cheap labor is somehow an entitlement...

And, the Dems will say hardly a word about any of this.

AFL-CIO: "Workers Win Fair Wages as Bush Backs off Davis-Bacon Suspension"

From the AFL-CIO comes AFL-CIO News: Workers Win Fair Wages as Bush Backs off Davis-Bacon Suspension:

In response to working families and their unions, as well as community and religious groups and some members of Congress, President George W. Bush on Oct. 26 rescinded his executive order that allowed contractors to pay substandard wages to construction workers rebuilding Gulf Coast areas devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The order, which suspended the federal Davis-Bacon Act, now will expire Nov. 8.
Grassroots activists sent more than 350,000 e-mails and letters to their representatives demanding fair wages be reinstated for the Gulf Coast, where skilled, full-time workers average less than $20,000 a year in pay.
One of Bush's first acts after Hurricane Katrina hit was suspending Davis-Bacon. Enacted in 1931, Davis-Bacon ensures high-quality work standards and community prevailing wage requirements for federally funded rebuilding projects. A few days after suspending Davis-Bacon, Bush also suspended affirmative action rules for Katrina contractors.

Oddly enough, I don't see anything there about Bush also allowing contractors to hire anyone regardless of immigration status. In fact, other than the LA Dems, no other Dems are complaining about that.
Yet, all those illegal aliens will serve to reduce wages for American hurricane victims, and will just serve as a backdoor way for major contractors to screw American workers. So, why doesn't the AFL-CIO say anything about that? Why don't those politicians who complained about this say anything? Are they afraid that MALDEF will call them "mean-spirited"? Don't worry, scared Dems. Here, I'll hold your hand as you try to reach down deep inside for that last little speck of patriotism.

Teddy Kennedy introduces "Rebuild with Respect Act"

Senator Teddy Kennedy offers the following statement while introducing the "Rebuild with Respect Act":

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita exposed the silent slavery of poverty for all of America to see. There's no excuse for ignoring what so obviously needs to be done to achieve genuine equality and basic fairness in this country. We know we're a stronger country when we're a fairer country and the crisis on the Gulf Coast has given us a chance to move closer to that goal.
Yet, the Bush Administration's response to the crisis has been fundamentally unfair. They have awarded billions of dollars in contracts to many of their corporate friends. Yet they also took the harsh step denying fair wages to workers implementing the contracts. They have allowed their no-bid contractors to ignore safety protections and exploit undocumented workers. They have cut off emergency aid, at a time when many are still struggling to survive. These responses reflect the misguided priorities that have become the indelible hallmark of this Administration.
Sadly, our Republican colleagues in Congress share the Administration's misguided priorities. Instead of finding ways to meet the needs of the hardworking Americans affected by Katrina and Rita, they are focusing on their proposal to grant over $70 billion in new tax cuts for millionaires...

This Act would:

# Allow Gulf Coast families to rebuild their own communities by requiring all recipients of federal disaster relief funds to employ individuals displaced from jobs or residences by Katrina and Rita and ensuring that federal contracts go to local businesses in the Gulf Coast region.
# Ensure that workers who have lost everything do not lose fair wages, too, by reinstating the protections of the Davis-Bacon Act for workers in the construction industry.
# Recognize and address the racial inequalities that have sparked national outcry by requiring contractors receiving federal disaster relief funds to fully comply with all affirmative action requirements applicable under law.
# Ensure that the federal contracting process is fair to small and disadvantaged businesses.
# Protect the health and safety of recovery and reconstruction workers and volunteers in the Gulf Coast region by requiring federal agencies to develop a coordinated health and safety plan that includes safety training, needed equipment, and monitoring of safety conditions.
# Provide economic security for those who have difficulty finding jobs by providing an emergency extension of unemployment insurance benefits and expanding eligibility for the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program.

Despite the bold move of mentioning "undocumented workers" (in reality they're called "illegal aliens"), there's nothing in there about enforcing the immigration laws against those who employ said workers.

More on the illegal aliens at Belle Chasse Naval Air Station

Here's a slight follow-up to "More Mary Landrieu and alleged illegal aliens employed by Halliburton subcontractor". As that pointed out, they hadn't been able to find out the actual employer of said alleged illegal aliens, and that continues. From Illegal workers found at La. base:

...It was unclear who employed the undocumented workers. Zuieback would not give the name of the employer. Robertson said they worked for BE&K, an Alabama-based contractor, and Texas-based BMS Catastrophe.
BE&K spokeswoman Susan Wasley said no company employee had been cited, removed or barred from the base. "We haven't done anything wrong," she said.
BMS Catastrophe did not return calls for comment.
BE&K is a subcontractor for Halliburton, which is doing the bulk of the reconstruction work at the base. It was not clear whether BMS Catastrophe also is a Halliburton subcontractor.
KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary overseeing the Belle Chasse work, issued a statement that did not address the probe's specifics. The company said its subcontractors comply with all labor laws.

DUmmies ahead of Dims on illegal aliens doing rebuilding jobs

The DU thread "BushCo. SUSPENDED immigration-enforcement sanctions against Companies", in addition to ungrammatical capitalization, has most DUmmies opposing Bush's moves against American workers. While it has a few politically-correct comments, most of the others seem to be on the right side of this issue.
Will the Dim leadership decide to support Americans rather than citizens of other countries? Let's wait, and wait, and wait, and see.
One comment is somewhat interesting:

The reason for the sad Democratic silence on this matter is that that too many Democrats are locked by political correctness and residual class-hatred into tacitly supporting illegal immigration.
The underlying political motive for the bourgeois (and therefore anti-labor) Democrats is nearly as obscene as the Republican motive: for the GOP it's bigger profits through cheaper labor; for the bourgeois/Democrats it's that more illegal immigration automatically means more jobs for social workers -- a major sub-constituency among the academic elite -- never mind illegal immigration also automatically means less work (and lower wages) for American workers in general.
Moreover, many of these same bourgeois/Democrats secretly regard the wound so inflicted on American working families as a delicious bonus -- like the Party's war on gun ownership, another expression of the unprecedented class-hatreds that grew out of the Vietnam Era and divide us to this day.

Illegal aliens taking American jobs, working in unsafe conditions

Welcome to "compassionate" feudalism. From Immigrant workers risk danger for storm cash

At the day labor pickup spot by the Home Depot on Sydney Marcus Boulevard in Atlanta, workers leave for the Gulf Coast every few days as contractors stop and offer them jobs.
They'll eagerly take work cleaning out maggot-infested food from refrigerators in New Orleans hotel kitchens and gutting homes and businesses containing asbestos and toxic sludge.
The huge, multibillion-dollar cleanup task on the Gulf Coast is a magnet for immigrant workers, legal and illegal. Although some are happy with their jobs, others find that the conditions aren't what they had hoped. Many immigrants have fallen victim to unscrupulous contractors and thieving co-workers. They also fear disease and deportation.
But there are many willing to take the risk...
While federal officials have taken little notice of illegal immigrants working on the cleanup, sheriff's deputies entered a Red Cross shelter in Long Beach, Miss., last month and demanded identification from dozens of people who looked Hispanic, according to news reports. They were concerned that the shelter was being used to house out-of-town construction workers.
Actually, many of the 50 or so Mexican-American men in the shelter were residents of Pass Christian, Miss., who had lost everything in the storm, said Remedios Gomez Arnau, consul general of the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta. They had sought refuge in the shelter and had been recruited to do construction work too, she said. No one was deported.
Gary Warren, political director for the Louisiana Carpenters Regional Council, said many illegal immigrants are cleaning out sludge dust without proper protection.
"There are molds and funguses growing," Warren said. New Orleans was flooded with water that contained petroleum products, benzene, other chemicals and human waste. That left a sludge that dried and turned into dust.
"You have all of these particles that are going to be inhaled and are going to cause respiratory problems," Warren said. "They will manifest themselves later as allergies and asthma."
Warren said the Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Department of Homeland Security are "all kind of turning their heads" to the problem...

More Mary Landrieu and alleged illegal aliens employed by Halliburton subcontractor

Landrieu says illegal workers hurt La.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is asking the Bush administration to send immigration enforcement officers to the Gulf Coast to investigate whether federal contractors are hiring undocumented workers to do Katrina recovery work.
"While my state experiences unemployment rates not seen since the Great Depression, it is unconscionable that illegal workers would be brought into Louisiana aggravating our employment crisis and depressing earnings for our workers," Landrieu said in a statement.
Landrieu cited testimony this week by electrical workers who had been employed at the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station. The workers said they were replaced Oct. 1 by contractor BE&K of Birmingham, Ala., with workers willing to work for significantly lower wages. The displaced workers were doing electrical work on the base, some related to wiring a tent city for Hurricane Katrina relief workers.
It was unclear, Landrieu said, whether the replacement workers are here legally.
Two of the displaced workers told Democratic senators conducting a hearing Monday on hurricane relief efforts that about 75 electricians from New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles lost their jobs at Belle Chasse. The culprit, the workers said, was the Bush administration's decision to exempt hurricane relief work from a federal law requiring all government contractors to pay prevailing wages and benefits...

BE&K denies the charges, but: while the Bush administration almost completely refuses to enforce immigration laws against employers, those employers who they've pursued end up having used contractors, labor suppliers, and the like.
See also Did a Halliburton subcontractor hire illegal aliens to work on a Navy base?

Did a Halliburton subcontractor hire illegal aliens to work on a Navy base?

Bear in mind we aren't just talking about alleged illegal aliens taking jobs that should go to those Americans affected by the storm. We're also talking about them working on a U.S. Navy base, so there's that little extra kick in the teeth.
Dateline Alabama

Immigration agents detained a large number of illegal immigrants working for a Halliburton subcontractor hired to do Hurricane Katrina recovery work, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's office said on Thursday.
The workers - numbering possibly more than 100 - were involved in setting up a tent city at a Navy base just outside New Orleans when they were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Wednesday, according to Landrieu's office.
Landrieu's office claimed that the alleged illegal workers were employed by BE&K. The Birmingham, Ala.-based subcontractor acknowledged that immigration officials descended on its work site, but said none of its employees were detained. Susan Wasley, a BE&K spokeswoman, said that about 136 workers from a different company on the project were detained. She would not name the other company.
She added that all BE&K's workers have valid work documents and that only about three of the 150 workers at the Navy base are green-card holders.
BE&K was awarded the work by Halliburton, which won contracts after Katrina to repair several military bases in the hard-hit Gulf Coast region, said Adam Sharp, a Landrieu spokesman.
"It is a downright shame that any contractor would use this tragedy as an opportunity to line his pockets by breaking the law and hiring a low-skilled, low-wage and undocumented work force," Landrieu said in a statement.
The Democratic senator sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Tuesday urging him to investigate allegations that the use of illegal workers was becoming "chronic" in rebuilding of the Gulf Coast region.
Immigration officials would not confirm nor deny that illegal workers were detained at the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station.
"The federal government must ensure that every company, no matter how big, follows the law and provides Gulf Coast residents with the jobs they deserve," Landrieu said.
Wasley said 75 percent of the workers at Belle Chasse were from the hurricane-hit states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas.
Allegations that illegal workers might be employed at the Navy base surfaced during congressional testimony given by Louisiana electrical contractors with Knight Enterprises who said they were hired by BE&K to build a 7,500-person tent city at the base.
Al Knight, the general manager of Knight Enterprises, testified that his 75 workers were fired after they trained the low-wage, out-of-state BE&K workers. BE&K denies that allegation, Wasley said.
The tent city was built to house military personnel involved in the rebuilding. Wasley said BE&K has also worked on the base's electrical systems, air conditioning and a temporary shower facility.

Some Americans are not.
See also: "More Mary Landrieu and alleged illegal aliens employed by Halliburton subcontractor"


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