There is new evidence tonight that good-paying New Orleans construction jobs which should, of course, be going to out-of-work Gulf Coast residents are being filled by foreign workers. With most of New Orleans still abandoned, contractors are in a desperate need for workers, even if those workers are in the United States illegally, they say.
...LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A steady flow of Hispanic workers is arriving in New Orleans to clean debris and repair houses and businesses. At least one job placement company has been actively importing foreign-born laborers. This flyer reads, "Add Mexican workers as part of your long-term workforce planning. Supply limited. Order now."
The ad directed at contractors is from Barton Rouge-based Accent Personnel Services, which is finding documented Mexicans for hire under the H2B visa program.
VIRGINIA PICKERING, THE ACCENT GROUP: The amount work that's necessary to be done is unprecedented. We're going to need more than we can have here. We have people coming from all over the United States to come down and help in this event, but even they are having trouble finding enough people to be here to work.
SYLVESTER: But critics are quick to slam the ad, saying it abuses the H2B visa program that is supposed to bring in foreign workers only if American workers are not available.
ROSEMARY JENKS, NUMBERS USA: It seems difficult to believe that in the wake of Katrina there are no American workers willing to do these jobs. And, of course, this is -- essentially, it sounds like a body shop that's renting out cheap workers.
SYLVESTER: The Davis-Bacon Act was waived, allowing companies to pay less than the prevailing or average wage in the rebuilding efforts. New Orleans is now a magnet for low-skill, low-wage employees.
Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis has two concerns, that some of the new workers may be illegal aliens and jobs are not being kept open for local residents.
CYNTHIA WILLARD-LEWIS, NEW ORLEANS COUNCIL MEMBER: It's critical that the people who live in this city, who give it its heart, its soul, its spirit come back. And so it is essential that the jobs be there for them to return.
SYLVESTER: And the Reverend Jesse Jackson shares that same view. He's leading a caravan of buses bringing 600 New Orleans residents back to the city. They're scheduled to arrive here tomorrow around noon -- Lou.
Immigration2005b · Tue, 10/11/2005 - 20:46 · Importance: 1