The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey highlights a problem that is faced by many cities after a natural disaster—rebuilding. The cost of property damage is immense following the hurricane that struck Houston this summer, but there is another obstacle that is hindering the city’s ability to recover from the storm. Without enough workers, there is no one to do the labor.
Removing storm-damaged materials and debris is a task that is resistant to automation, and there will be a number of skilled workers to take over the project of restoring and rebuilding. Across the U.S., there are shortages of workers, but this problem is particularly affecting the trades that are needed most after a disaster. During the housing bust, many skilled and unskilled workers found themselves laid off and had to enter other fields to survive.
Many construction workers immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America to pursue the opportunities they could receive when construction jobs were opening faster than they could be filled. When the bust came, many were forced to return to their home country by the economy. Others were deported. As the U.S. housing sector has slowly recovered, it has become far more difficult to hire construction workers to keep up with the growing field.
After a natural disaster, like Hurricane Harvey, there will be a surge of employment to clean up and rebuild, but there may not be enough workers to meet the demand. Often, immigrant workers have been counted upon to fill these positions and take up the work of helping staggered cities back to their feet. According to a Tulane and University of Berkley study in 2007, approximately 100,000 Latino workers, many of them undocumented, flooded to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina to work in the extensive recovery efforts. It is highly likely that a similar migration of workers will be necessary to support the rebuilding efforts in Houston.
With the Trump administration ramping up deportations of undocumented immigrants and the increasing anti-Latino sentiments echoing across the country, it is unlikely that the previous techniques will work. Without immigrants, it is likely that it will take far longer for Houston to recover from the havoc wreaked by last summer.
At The Law Offices of Rosina C. Stambaugh, we are committed to helping our clients successfully make their home in the U.S. Our York immigration lawyer understands the challenges faced by immigrants, and we are here to support them as they navigate the U.S. immigration process. Learn how we can help you start your new life in America.