A little politics, but I promise it won’t last too long!

Ok, I know the title of the blog is Classroom Biz, but sometimes we just have to go beyond our insular little world and deal with other issues. This is one of those times.

This is an editorial from the Sunday Los Angeles Times. When the story about President Bush allowing firms to pay less than the prevailing wage in Louisiana, I commented on what the outcome would likely be… more profits in the hands of large construction companies. Here’s another side effect of the decision:

La Nueva Orleans

  • Latino immigrants, many of them here illegally, will rebuild the Gulf Coast — and stay there.
  • By Gregory Rodriguez, Gregory Rodriguez is a contributing editor to The Times and Irvine Senior fellow at the New America Foundation.

    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. (Read the rest of the editorial here; registration may be required.)

    I have nothing against immigration. I have a huge problem with the exploitation of workers- of any nationality or immigrant status- for the profits of industry. And this article in today’s New York Times brings to mind a related issue: who’s approving these contracts, and who’s choosing the contractors? The potential for abuse and corruption is gigantic, and it makes me sick. Over 1000 people dead, mostly poor, and/or elderly, and/or black, and the loudest sound to be heard in the South right now is ringing cash registers.

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