Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Roundup of Immigrants in Shelter Reveals Rising Tensions (Wall Street Journal)

October 3, 2005; Page B1


LONG BEACH, Miss. -- Last Wednesday, police and the U.S. Marshals Service swept into a Red Cross shelter for hurricane refugees here. They blocked the parking lot and exits and demanded identification from about 60 people who looked Hispanic, including some pulled out of the shower and bathroom, according to witnesses. The shelter residents were told to leave within two days or else they would be deported.

"They asked me where I wanted to go: to Houston, Atlanta or back to Mexico," said Jose Luis Rivera, 39 years old and an undocumented construction worker from Veracruz, Mexico. Mr. Rivera said he had been sleeping in a tent outside the large shelter building since Hurricane Katrina struck just over a month ago, flooding his second-story apartment in nearby Pass Christian and destroying all his belongings, including a pickup truck. "I lost everything I own in the storm. But they said they didn't care. They told us that if we didn't leave they would return on Friday with buses to take us away," he said.

Fearful they would be forced to leave the country, Mr. Rivera and most of the other Hispanic men left the Red Cross shelter the next morning. Local contractors agreed to house workers they are hiring for cleanup work and other jobs in tents at worksites. Mr. Rivera set up his tent at a Baptist church that told him it had room for Hispanics from the shelter. ( MORE...)