By Victor Landa, NewsTaco
Immigrant workers, mostly Hispanics in the building trades, will flock along with others to the areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy. As in previous natural disasters, they will be an important component of any rebuilding.
It’s not that I don’t believe what it says, it’s that I can’t believe who said it. Those words come from a blog written by Alex Nowrasteh, and posted on the CATO Institute blogsite. That’s right, the CATO Institute, the right-wing, libertarian think tank based in Washington D.C. They’ve apparently been paying attention to natural disasters past and noticed that as the locals run for cover, Latinos rush to work.
During and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, hundreds of thousands of people from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama left their homes behind. For many from New Orleans, Houston became their new home. In contrast, around 100,000 immigrant workers quickly moved into the Gulf Coast area to take advantage of the labor market opportunities offered by the reconstruction in the aftermath of Katrina.
This is not news to U.S. Latinos: chamba after all, is chamba. But now the idea is spreading. In April of 2011 a tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, left 43 dead and a swath of destruction almost a mile wide. Immigrant Latino workers, Nowraseth writes, responded to the reconstruction work with “alacrity.” The blog quotes a Tuscaloosa contractor named Bob McNelly, who says he prefers Latino immigrant workers.
“It’s not the pay rate. It’s the fact that they work harder than anyone. It’s the work ethic,” he said.
The key, according to the CATO “experts” is that the Latino workforce is young, mobile (not economically tied down to an area), hard working and capable. The folks in Sandy’s wake will soon find out.
This article was first published in NewsTaco.
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