...The focus on Hispanic immigrants worries people like Representative Nydia M. VelÃƒÂ¡zquez of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Small Business Committee.
"I am afraid the anger and frustration of hurricane victims is going to be turned against undocumented workers, who are being taken advantage of," Ms. VelÃƒÂ¡zquez said.
...It was the promise of housing, as much as anything, that prompted Mr. Cheatham, the union electrician, to take a job wiring a tent city for a subcontractor at the Naval Air Station at Belle Chasse, south of New Orleans, he said. He had lost his house near Lake Pontchartrain to flooding, along with his car; his family was scattered.
Life on the base was tough, he said, but he was particularly troubled by the presence of a large number of people he believed to be illegal immigrants, some of whom were working at the base, others of whom arrived each night on buses for meals. (The Navy said it allowed its contractors to house workers on the base.) "I called immigration several times to complain," Mr. Cheatham said.
Then, abruptly in their view, the subcontractor, BE&K, fired Mr. Cheatham and his fellow union electricians. The electricians, who make about $22 an hour plus benefits, said they believed that their jobs were taken by lower-paid, illegal workers.
Their boss, Albert Knight of Knight Enterprises in Lacombe, La., complained to Senate Democrats, who demanded an investigation. And, in fact, federal officials have since found more than two dozen illegal workers at the base, although only two worked for BE&K, which says it did not replace the electricians with lower-paid workers...