You'd live like this?
Try as I might, I know I can’t put myself “in the shoes” of the illegal workers who are highlighted in this morning’s WaPo article. I am absolutely positive I’ve never been so desperate that I’d live on the floor of a flood-destroyed, mold-decaying house and face the hostility and impossibility of their day-to-day realities.
What I can’t figure out (never could) is what Americans fear from these folks? I hear – all the time – about how they’re taking away our jobs. Really? Who among us is willing to live and work under such conditions, much less for these wages? I know I’m not.
Just to be clear: I don’t for one second believe that a company awarded a governmental contract should be coming into New Orleans with illegal immigrants to fulfill a contracted obligation. If KBR (for instance) bid to do work for the government, they should be moving heaven and earth to hire (and house) local citizens.
But this article isn’t talking about governmental contracts. The author is writing about people willing to help on the ground, at the individual level, and right now in New Orleans, that seems like a necessary void to fill. People have homes to gut, debris to clear, studs to bleach… you name it.
Unless I’m missing something, we don’t have buses and lines of Americans standing in line to sleep on floors while they take those menial jobs. Can somebody show me where they are?
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I spent many hours talking about exactly this with a very dear friend, and we never did meet in the middle. His fear was even harder for me to understand: that illegal workers might be taking away traditional “first-job” opportunities from young people… and yet he was sure his kids wouldn’t do the type of work described in the article, and certainly never under those conditions.
How are these sad, desperate people hurting anybody? They break my heart.