Some Hispanic advocacy organizations are crying foul. "What that suggests is that the federal government is prepared to serve some victims but not others," Cecilia Munoz, vice president for policy at the National Council of La Raza, told The Washington Post. "That sends a terrifying message to the larger community," she said. But does it really? The Red Cross, Catholic Charities, and other private groups aren't checking green cards before dispensing aid, so there are sources of help for illegal aliens displaced by Katrina.
Even Mexico -- for once -- has stepped up to give aid. A 40-vehicle Mexican military convoy brought mobile kitchens, medical supplies, food and doctors, engineers and others to the hurricane victims. Not since Mexico ceded one-third of its territory to the United States in 1848 in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo have Mexican troops officially entered U.S. territory. It's likely that at least some of this aid will go to Mexican nationals living in the U.S. -- which is the least Mexico can do given its more or less official policy of encouraging illegal migration north.
It's hard to imagine now with the scars of Hurricane Katrina still fresh, but my bet is that the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast will be a boon to Hispanics in the region. There will be plenty of jobs to go around, and, as always, immigrants will be among the first lining up to do them. It's too bad Congress hasn't done its job as well, passing genuine immigration reform that would let more immigrants come legally to do those very jobs.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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