You are here


S.F. Chronicle pimps illegal laborers working in unsafe conditions

Like a reverse The Jungle, the "liberals" at the S.F. Chronicle have a Page 1 "Special to The Chronicle" report from Eliza Barclay entitled "As locals struggle, migrants find work in New Orleans":

Two weeks ago, Geremias Lopez was picking grapes near Bakersfield, but when he saw an advertisement on Univision, the nation's largest Spanish-language television network, for work on the Gulf Coast, he and a friend called the 1-800 number flashing on the screen and were soon aboard a Greyhound bus headed east.
Lopez and the 80-some other Mexican and Honduran immigrants in his crew are now earning $100 a day covering torn and mangled roofs with blue tarps until the roofs can be re-shingled and restored to some semblance of what they looked like before Hurricane Katrina struck six weeks ago.

Now, you might want to read up on how much your federal government is overpaying for those roofing jobs.

For New Orleans residents, most of whom have yet to return, life remains very hard, and very uncertain. But for Lopez and his migrant workmates, it's a noticeable improvement over their minimum-wage jobs as California fruit pickers or as poultry processors in Arkansas.

"Minimum-wage" to me implies some form of legal framework. Is he here legally?

They and Latino immigrants from all over the United States have been flocking to the region, often working for out-of-state companies which received the initial round of cleanup contracts.
Recognizing the demand for migrant labor, and to help speed reconstruction in the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security temporarily suspended rules mandating employers to prove that workers they hire are citizens or have a legal right to work in the United States.
In addition, President Bush suspended application in the Katrina-affected region of the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, under which employers must pay prevailing wage rates on federally financed construction projects -- in order, Bush said, to "permit the employment of thousands of additional individuals."


The Louisiana Department of Labor says it has received requests from contractors to certify 500 illegal migrants. Agency officials estimate that the actual number of illegal migrants already working for contractors is far higher, because many employers are not bothering with the paperwork.
This is adding to the unhappiness of local contractors trying to re-establish their own businesses and hire local workers, after being evacuated or otherwise losing their ability to operate for weeks.
"The local people can't participate in their own recovery," said Jack Donahue, whose Mandeville, La.-based firm Donahue Favret Contractors Inc. specializes in such construction tasks as sheetrock and flooring removal and mold remediation.
Part of the problem, Donahue said, is that local construction workers scattered during the evacuation and are just beginning to come back. Many are returning to destroyed or severely damaged homes and have discovered that the hotels in the region are full of out-of-state workers, including migrants.

Now, the S.F. Chronicle's "migrants" are sleeping, several to a room, in a "dank" motel room that had been flooded. Someone else says, "It's also much better to be in a hotel instead of the outdoor camps where we were getting bit by mosquitoes."
Finally, the SFC lets us in on a little truth:

Of the 80-some roofers in Lopez and Morillo's motel, few are legal residents or possess temporary work visas, according to Morillo. Rarely was their immigration status an issue in their hiring.

It goes on, but somehow I think the SFC should do a gut check and remember which country they're living in.

Subscribe to RSS - sf-chronicle