At the End of The Day, It Is The Immigrant Community Who Will Be Cleaning Up After Ike

Date Put forth on September 19, 2008 by XicanoPwr
Category Posted in Elections, Elections 2008, Hurricane Season, Texas

In today’s post-Katrina coverage, if damage pales in comparison to Katrina, in the eyes the national media, it’s not going to be seen as a “big deal” and in the public’s mind, it is nothing more but ancient history. Here in Houston, with over 1.7 1.2 million people without power, we wouldn’t know what is happening outside the Houston/Galveston area. For those us with power, it seems time has stopped, as the world has passed us by.

We have been bombarded with 24/7 coverage of Hurricane Ike and the road the recovery, with little coverage of anything else, such as the current economic crises this country is facing, the recent melt down of the stock market and the non-Ike related pending massive wave of foreclosure.

It seems like the immigration issue is rearing its ugly head again in the presidential campaign. On Wednesday, presidential hopeful Barack Obama released a new ad that ties John McCain to Rush Limbaugh.

Naturally, McCain and Limbaugh were quick to respond. However, with the extensive damage Ike left in the Houston/Galveston and surrounding areas hit by the hurricane, McCain must once again walk a fine line, especially as this presidential campaign escalates towards the November 4 election.

Houston Rebuilds For the undocumented and living here in Houston and Galveston area, they will be hit twice and will have it even a harder time than other impoverished residents surviving after the hurricane, since they are not allowed to ask for aid. Yet, cautiously, they find ways to survive. Many of them gather on street corners here in storm-battered Houston, ready for the jobs they know will come their way, sweeping up broken glass, clearing downed trees and debris from city streets, and repairing damaged buildings.

“They don’t have resources and they don’t have legal status, and we are concerned that they might not … have water or electricity,” said Fernando Garcia, the director of the Border Network for Human Rights, a nonprofit advocacy group.

“People are afraid to reach out for help as they don’t know if immigration (police) will detain them or not,” he said.

Laborers are needed everywhere from Houston, to Galveston Island, to the rural areas of East Texas to help clear out debris and rebuild. Even though they will get nothing for their services rendered because undocumented immigrants cannot get temporary homes, subsidies, Social Security checks or mail delivery promised to legal residents displaced by Ike, there are groups like Catholic Charities and Casa Juan Diego who go out of their way will help the undocumented immigrants with shelter and cash. But the intense climate of fear and language barriers are even making these services hard to access.

McCain is expected to win Texas, he will need the votes from those who live in the areas hit hard this hurricane season, which includes heavily red East Texas. Despite the nationwide clamor against illegal immigration, he might want to reevaluate his stance on the immigration issue if he wants to pull off a win here in Texas.

They say nothing builds solidarity like a catastrophe because it is during these trying times that makes us look around and appreciate want it means to be part of a “community.” During these times, you can see how hardship is bringing out the best in Houston, as neighbors assist neighbors and friendships are being forged among those who may would have never spoken to if the situation were different. The sense of “community” goes beyond neighborhood blocks, it can spread beyond city limits to neighboring counties who are also affecting by the same event. It is in following the very worst and most widespread of disasters, that we learn to appreciate the community of humankind.

The GOP’s plan to make disaster relief a political opportunity backfired on them. The political reality is, Texas is very unique and is nothing like New Orleans where there was a major demographic shift. Detaining and deporting the person who helped rebuild the city you call home is nothing more but adding insult to injury. If the Democrats play their cards right and a visit by Barack Obama and Joe Biden to the hardest hit areas, Texas can and will turn blue this November.

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  1. Gravatar Icon Texano78704 Sep 24th, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Every morning this week they have been lining up outside the Chase Tower in downtown Houston for clean up detail. Didn’t see anyone protesting against them…

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