Pence attempted to divert attention by pledging unwavering federal government support. Yet he stood by the president’s threat of forcing a government shutdown later this month if Congress does not approve funding for a new border wall.
“If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” Trump said during a campaign rally last week in Arizona. “We’re going to have our wall. The American people voted for immigration control. We’re going to get that wall.”
Trump is so clueless that he is talking about immigration control at a time when we need immigrant workers more than EVER! As early as February of this year it was reported that in Texas an estimated 400,000 construction workers reside illegally. If they were forced to leave the country, contractors say, state construction companies would face a difficult fallout, including higher labor costs, construction delays, and some projects canceled altogether. As the waters rose so did fear of deportation of undocumented workers. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) had to assure undocumented immigrants that they should seek shelter, and authorities would not use this as an opportunity to deport them. In a joint statement, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agencies said they would not target undocumented immigrants at evacuation sites, shelters or food banks, and would prioritize “lifesaving and life-sustaining activities” during the storm and its aftermath.
The reality is that we couldn’t afford to build a wall before the hurricane. Now, more than ever federal funds need to be directed at rebuilding Houston instead of a wall to keep out construction workers that we need now more than ever. The U.S. economy has created jobs for a record 82 months. There are 146.6 million people with payroll jobs. The unemployment rate is 4.3 percent. At the end of June, the Labor Department reports, there were a record 6.16 million jobs open in the U.S. (That compares with about 4 million in August 2005, when Katrina hit.) Put another way, it’s harder to find labor in the U.S. right now than at any point in recent history.
Worse yet, is the shortage in the type of jobs that are critical to disaster recovery. Many construction workers come (legally and illegally) from Mexico and Central America. And in recent years, the flow of new potential workers has slowed down significantly. The result: As the U.S. housing and construction recovery has chugged on, it has become more difficult to hire construction workers. In June, there were some 225,000 open construction jobs in the U.S., up 31 percent from June 2016. Now with the rebuilding after Harvey, construction jobs are in greater demand than ever.
Trump’s pledge to start mass deportations and build a wall along the Mexican border appear to have resulted in an increase of immigrants staying close to home, according to the White House. There has also been a 40 percent uptick in ICE enforcement actions, the agency reported.
Trump has received enough criticism about his trip to Texas that he has announced a return on Friday. Yet his Tweets this morning demonstrate his lack of concern with the Texas who lost their lives and their homes, and his focus on all-things Trump. In Twitter tirade this morning Trump found time to rail against former FBI Director James Comey and 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
At a time that Houston needs federal money to rebuild, and construction workers to do the dirty work of rebuilding, Trump seems committed to eliminating both.