After Hurricane Katrina, grocery and big box stores all over the Gulf Coast found themselves having to create whole aisles devoted to Latino food. Mexican food trucks were everywhere in New Orleans. What caused this transformation of the food scene? Immigrants coming north to help rebuild after the storm.
With the announcement that the Trump administration will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, it is all the more important to understand why immigration matters at times like these. As areas of Texas, Louisiana and Florida face a long and historically expensive recovery from Harvey and Irma, they need to learn all they can from Katrina. One of those lessons was the importance of immigrant labor in the rebuilding process.
During these times, immigration will relieve pressure on the market for lower-skilled labor. As the demand for clean-up and construction labor grows, workers have to come from somewhere. There are some willing native-born Americans, but from past experience it’s clear that there aren’t enough Americans who both need the work and are willing to do it for the current wage.
The increased demand for labor will push up wages, and higher wages will attract workers to Texas and Florida. If we continue to close the door to immigrants, those workers will have to come from…
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