Tags: One | Reporters | Opinion | Illegals | Cleaning | Again

One Reporters Opinion - Illegals Cleaning Up Again

Monday, 19 September 2005 12:00 AM

With this challenge come the contractors. And wherever there are construction contracts, there will be fat profits for corporations and jobs created in construction-related industries. But who wins the contracts? Who will do the work, and at what price?

Right off the top, we can conclude that the same giant, well-connected corporations involved in Iraq are first in line: The Shaw Group ... Bechtel National ... Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) ... and, of course, the Halliburton Company, formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, who served as CEO from 1995 to 2000 when he joined the Republican ticket.

[According to tax filings, his income included $194,852 in deferred pay from the company, which won billion-dollar government contracts in Iraq. Cheney's office says the deferred compensation is "fixed" and is not affected by Halliburton's current economic performance or earnings.]

Not to mention, at least two major corporations are represented by lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, President Bush's former campaign manager and former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Many of the companies seeking contracts in the wake of hurricane Katrina have already received billions of dollars for work in Iraq.

Halliburton alone has earned more than $9 billion, including $1.3 billion in questioned costs, and $422 million in unsupported costs. We're talking big money!

KBR is at the center of scrutiny for receiving a five-year no-bid contract to restore Iraqi oil fields. Halliburton reports being paid $10.7 billion for Iraq-related government work during 2003 and 2004. Its pre-tax profits from that work are pegged at $163 million.

Pentagon auditors are questioning tens of millions of dollars of Halliburton charges for its operations in Iraq.

Daniel Brian, Executive Director of the Project on Government Oversight, is appalled. Brian says, "The government has got to stop stacking senior positions with people who are repeatedly cashing in on the public trust in order to further private commercial interests."

Congress has already appropriated more than $60 billion in emergency funding as down payment on recovery efforts projected to cost well over $100 billion. But the president appears to be aiding and abetting the big-buck corporations to win rebuilding contracts.

Adding insult to injury, on September 6, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would not require employers to use the I-9 forms (these forms are the documentation required under Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act used by employers to verify their employees are eligible to work in the U.S.).

This means that without the I-9 requirement, employers will be able to hire illegal aliens without fear of being sanctioned. The DHS will not bring sanction actions against employers for hiring illegals.

And on September 8, President Bush issued an executive order allowing federal contractors (rebuilding in the aftermath of Katrina) to pay BELOW the prevailing wage. This means the corporations can use illegal aliens to rebuild and will not have to worry about breaking immigration laws because they are exempted.

So now companies such as Halliburton will reap immense profits while low-paid illegals toil in the disease-infested floodwaters. NO LAW - NO WORRY.

Bush's action drew rebukes from Congressman George Miller (D-Calif.) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). They charge the administration is using the devastation of hurricane Katrina to cut the wages of people desperately trying to rebuild their lives and their communities.

Miller says, "Bush should immediately realize his colossal mistake in signing these orders and rescind them." While the illegal aliens, mostly Mexican, go to work to rebuild New Orleans, Bush and Cheney will probably call this "competitive bidding."

I reiterate: President Bush has waived rules that would require federally funded contractors to pay a competitive wage to workers in the clean-up and rebuilding. This is an unfair giveaway to big business!

To accomplish this, the White House is lifting part of the Davis-Bacon Act, created during the Great Depression,* which requires companies receiving federal contracts to pay at least the average wage for the region. Richard Trumka (AFL-CIO) calls the suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act "a shameful government-sponsored wage race to the bottom for workers."

All of this maneuvering at top government levels means construction contractors won't even have to meet the average wage of $9.00 an hour.

We've all witnessed pictures of the homeless and dispossessed, most of them poor African-Americans in need of these construction jobs. The blacks "drowning" in Katrina appear to be shut out of the jobs they so desperately need.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there are as many as 800,000 illegal aliens currently employed in the U.S. construction industry. The large majority are Mexicans who are dominating the industry throughout the entire U.S.

Yet the president, by his actions and executive orders, has authorized the robber barons to use illegal aliens to rebuild the damage done by Katrina! Here we are again with illegals competing with American blacks who are struggling to rebuild their lives and earn a living.

Tens of thousands of Gulf Coast residents lost everything in this hurricane, yet our own government is making it harder for them to rebuild their lives. It's just one more scenario where illegals are encouraged to break our laws without having to worry about the consequences. NO LAW - NO WORRY.

* Davis-Bacon has been waived before, by President Roosevelt - for three weeks during the New Deal transition. Also, by Nixon, for one month in 1971. And by President George H. W. Bush after Hurricane Andrew. It was reinstated when Clinton took office.

Related Links: --Rob Sanchez of the Job Destruction Newsletter (www.zazona.com) --Davis-Bacon Act - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki

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With this challenge come the contractors. And wherever there are construction contracts, there will be fat profits for corporations and jobs created in construction-related industries. But who wins the contracts? Who will do the work, and at what price? Right off the...
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Monday, 19 September 2005 12:00 AM
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