Photo: Annie Correal
As you walk the coastal shores of Louisiana and Florida you will see diligent work crews helping clean up the crude oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill. What many do not know is that many clean up crews are predominantly Hispanic.
There are Puerto Rican, Cuban, Honduran and Guatemalan clean up crews with Dominican’s making up the majority of immigrant laborers known as ‘disaster migrants.’ Most come from nearby immigrant communities in Louisiana that originally came to help rebuild after Katrina. Others are professional disaster migrants that come to an area after a natural disaster to obtain clean up work. For example, after an oil spill contractors typically go looking for day laborers at known locations such as churches and job centers.
It is tedious and danger work removing patches of oil underneath the sand, salvaging the top layers of sand in soaring heat. Two workers have already died in the Gulf clean up from heat stroke. Many don’t care about the risks because they will be paid an average of $13/hour and get temporary housing and a stipend for meals either living in rentals or pop-up tent cities.