NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — President Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Kirstjen Nielsen, was at the center of a plan that allowed thousands of illegal aliens to come to the United States to take coveted American blue-collar jobs from hundreds of thousands of citizens who had lost their livelihood in the historic natural disaster.
In 2005, as President George W. Bush‘s special assistant for prevention, preparedness, and response, Nielsen was part of a team — known as the Homeland Security Council — inside the administration that aided in responding to Hurricane Katrina, including decisions to temporarily dismantle pro-American worker laws.
For instance, while Nielsen was a part of the Katrina response team in the Bush administration, Bush’s DHS suspended sanctions for employers who willingly hire illegal aliens. Additionally, Bush waved the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, which mandated that federal contractors pay workers the average regional wage.
Bush’s easing of labor laws was followed by an aftermath effort that allowed an estimated 30,000 illegal aliens to not only flood the Gulf Coast after Katrina but also to take thousands of American blue-collar jobs that would have otherwise gone to impacted working-class Americans.
As documented by the Washington Times in 2006, Bush’s response to Katrina — which Nielsen was involved in — left disadvantaged Americans looking for work as their would-be construction jobs went to foreign workers who readily worked for less than minimum wage:
An Alabama employment agency that sent 70 laborers and construction workers to job sites in that state in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina says the men were sent home after just two weeks on the job by employers who told them “the Mexicans had arrived” and were willing to work for less.
Linda Swope, who operates Complete Employment Services Inc. in Mobile, Ala., told The Washington Times last week that the workers — whom she described as U.S. citizens, residents of Alabama and predominantly black — had been “urgently requested” by contractors hired to rebuild and clear devastated areas of the state, but were told to leave three job sites when the foreign workers showed up.
“After Katrina, our company had 70 workers on the job the first day, but the companies decided they didn’t need them anymore because the Mexicans had arrived,” Mrs. Swope said. “I assure you it is not true that Americans don’t want to work.
“We had been told that 270 jobs might be available, and we could have filled every one of them with men from this area, most of whom lost their jobs because of the hurricane,” she said. “When we told the guys they would not be needed, they actually cried … and we cried with them. This is a shame.”
The report revealed how illegal aliens and cheap, foreign workers not only crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to take American jobs following Bush’s waving of labor laws but also traveled to the Gulf Coast from California, Arizona, and Texas.
The Bush administration’s waving of the Davis-Bacon Act allowed thousands of foreign workers to work for companies who were contracted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Following Katrina, 1.5 million Americans were displaced by the storm, and the easing of labor laws by the Bush administration left many looking for work outside of the Gulf Coast since illegal aliens and foreign workers quickly dominated the paid clean-up effort.
A similar report in 2005 by the St. Petersburg Times depicted how New Orleans, specifically, was overrun by illegal alien workers following the Bush administration’s response.
R.J. Rouzan, for instance, shared his frustration with the government’s willingness to allow illegal aliens into New Orleans, despite homeowners not even being allowed to re-enter parts of the city.
“They let trucks full of illegal aliens in there and not the property owners?” Rouzan told a receptionist in New Orleans City Hall at the time, according to the St. Petersburg Times report. Even Mayor Ray Nagin seemed to agree with the frustration locals had with the Bush administration’s pro-open borders response.
In an address to business owners and contractors during a “Back to Business” forum this month at the Sheraton, Mayor Ray Nagin said he knew what group members were thinking: “How do I ensure that New Orleans is not overrun by Mexican workers?”
They answered with applause.
Rouzan wasn’t there. But he feels their frustration.
Rouzan, a black owner of construction and trucking businesses, said his employees are scattered across several states. Without a place to stay, they can’t come back to work. Watching Hispanic workers take similar jobs, Rouzan seethes.
“They are allowing people to come in who are getting jobs while we as homeowners who built this city, they don’t let us get access to our property,” Rouzan said.
The usual response that American workers would not do the grueling jobs after Katrina that illegal alien and foreign workers were willing to do was quickly debunked, as some business owners refused to hire illegal alien workers, choosing to hire needy locals instead.
Mike Dunbar was one of those business owners who disproved this notion, as the St. Petersburg Times documented:
“I’m not prejudiced,” he said. He worries if Hispanic workers settle into the area, black residents won’t have jobs when and if they return.
So far he’s hired only nonimmigrant workers from Georgia and Texas because his former employees have not returned.
“I think some people aren’t going to come back,” said Dunbar, 42. “I think housing is the No. 1 problem. When we came back, we didn’t have anywhere to live. That’s holding a lot of them from coming back. You can work, but you need some place to stay.”
Those who can’t find a place to sleep are missing out on roofing jobs that can pay $25 an hour.
Dunbar houses his 12 workers in rental apartments owned by his father. He stays there, too, while his wife and children are in Alabama.
Nielsen’s involvement in the Bush administration’s response effort potentially gives a glimpse into how she will manage immigration and American worker issues at the helm of DHS.
Likewise, the praise Nielsen has received from former Bush officials reveals her alliance with pro-amnesty establishment-types and cheap, foreign labor advocates.
Most notably, one of Nielsen’s closest allies, former Bush official Frances Townsend — who was also involved in the Katrina response effort under Bush — immediately backed Trump’s announcement that he would appoint Nielsen to head DHS.
“She is tough as nails, competent, and has rightly earned the president’s respect,” Townsend said, as Breitbart News reported.
Townsend, in 2013, welcomed the failed effort to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens — known as the “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill — saying the open borders plan was in-line with the Bush administration’s goals on immigration.
“This is a redux of the Bush effort and the underlying principles,” Townsend told the Daily Beast at the time.
Townsend, in 2016, went as far as to openly oppose Trump’s “America First” agenda, signing on to a letter with 94 other Washington, D.C. establishment figures and former Bush administration officials that claimed he was “so utterly unfitted to the office.”
Nielsen’s nomination to run DHS by Trump has angered the core of his supporters: Pro-American immigration reformers who want to see an end to illegal immigration and a reduction of overall legal immigration to aid U.S. workers.
As Breitbart News reported, NumbersUSA spokeswoman Rosemary Jenks slammed Trump’s decision to pick Nielsen for the DHS job, saying “There was virtually no one in the Bush admin that was good on immigration.”
“The last thing we need at DHS is a Bush Republican,” Jenks told Breitbart News. “We elected Trump. We did not elect a Bush. We specifically rejected the Bush dynasty. We don’t need a Bush Republican at DHS.”