Im­mi­gra­tion crack­down to im­pact storm re­cov­ery

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - COMMENTARY - — St. Louis Post-Dis­patch

Hous­ton faces a flood­ing cri­sis of pro­por­tions that emer­gency re­sponse of­fi­cials say they’ve never seen. The na­tion’s fourth-largest city will spend months re­cov­er­ing and re­build­ing. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump vis­ited Cor­pus Christi and Autin on Tues­day . ... Any­one in Texas who has ex­pe­ri­enced weather dis­as­ters knows the re­cov­ery ef­fort is one where im­mi­grant la­bor plays an es­sen­tial role.

Last week, Trump threat­ened to shut down the gov­ern­ment if fund­ing for a bor­der wall isn’t in­cluded in the spend­ing pack­age that Congress must ap­prove by Sept. 30. Trump’s threat would mean the fed­eral aid spigot for Hous­ton could be turned off in the mid­dle of the re­cov­ery ef­fort. That would anger even hard­line Texas Repub­li­cans.

Trump feels so strongly about his im­mi­gra­tion crack­down that, just as Hur­ri­cane Har­vey was mak­ing land­fall Fri­day, he par­doned for­mer Mari­copa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Ar­paio. Ar­paio gained na­tional in­famy by de­fy­ing fed­eral court or­ders and round­ing up Lati­nos sim­ply be­cause they looked like they might be un­doc­u­mented mi­grants . ...

Hous­ton has the third-largest pop­u­la­tion of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to the Pew Re­search Cen­ter . ... Go to any con­struc­tion site in Hous­ton, and the lan­guage be­ing spo­ken will be Span­ish first and English sec­ond. The kinds of la­bor Hous­to­ni­ans will most need the next few months will be roofers and dry­wall re­moval and in­stal­la­tion work­ers.

Ask any con­struc­tion con­trac­tor — thou­sands will be flock­ing soon to Hous­ton — how the re­cov­ery ef­fort works, and they’ll re­cite a com­pli­cated for­mula that hinges en­tirely on the nar­row re­im­burse­ment mar­gins al­lowed by in­sur­ance com­pa­nies. To make it all work at prices that Hous­ton home­own­ers can af­ford, cheap im­mi­grant la­bor is a re­quire­ment. Even the con­ser­va­tive Texas As­so­ci­a­tion of Busi­ness con­cedes as much . ...

Hous­ton is where Trump’s Make Amer­ica Great Again boasts slam up against hard eco­nomic re­al­ity. He can choose be­tween an im­mi­gra­tion crack­down or a more rapid re­cov­ery. But he can’t have both.

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