Byron Pitts did a story on last night’s “CBS Evening News” called “Nuevo New Orleans.” In it, Pitts reported a wave of legal and illegal immigrants coming into New Orleans seeking employment.
At a town hall meeting with small business owners, Mayor Ray Nagin said on camera: “How do I make sure that New Orleans is not overrun by Mexican workers?”
Given the recent outcry concerning statements made by Bill Bennett, one has to wonder why there is no similar outrage over Nagin’s remarks. Or, how about the way Pitts finishes the segment: “The worry here: Will it look like the old New Orleans when it's over?”
What follows is a full transcript of this report along with a video link.
Byron Pitts: Reporter: New Orleans' distinct American culture, threatened first by floodwaters, is now threatened again, say locals, by a flood of a different sort. Sunrise to sunset, both legal and illegal immigrants arrive here by the busload, brought in by big corporate contractors like Halliburton. While tens of thousands of New Orleans residents are still scattered across the country, the crescent city's newest occupants are fed, clothed, and housed in makeshift living quarters around the city.
"Nuevo New Orleans," they call it, where construction work and day labor is plentiful, unless you were born and raised in New Orleans.
Unnamed Male: If you get all these people coming from out of town and they fill these positions, where does that leave us?
Unnamed Male: How come all this money is being taken out of Louisiana?
Pitts: At a recent and often contentious town hall meeting with small business owners, New Orleans major Ray Nagin was applauded when he asked this question.
Nagin: How do I make sure that New Orleans is not overrun by Mexican workers? (Applause )
Pitts:: This migration started when the president suspended government labor laws after Hurricane Katrina, so a few major contractors like Halliburton received no-bid contracts. From there, the math gets simple: The cheaper the labor, the greater the profit.
Unnamed Male: They're paying them five dollars for jobs they're charging FEMA 20 dollars and 20- something dollars. Is that fair? You might as well get local people, who you can give a living wage to, who can help rebuild this community.
Pitts: All agree rebuilding this historic city will be a slow process.
Unnamed Male: We're right here, world! You can't kill this spirit, Katrina!
Pitts: The worry here: Will it look like the old New Orleans when it's over? Byron Pitts, CBS News, New Orleans.