The Growth of Hispanic Influence in New Orleans
Before Katrina, New Orleans was 67% African-American and 3% Hispanic. But as many black have vacated -- and, as one survey found, nearly half don't plan to come back -- an influx of Hispanic laborers may change the character of the Big Easy.
If they stick around, that is. Although Hispanic workers are desperately needed for cleanup and reconstruction tasks, these are dirty jobs that pay poorly. In some cases, laborers are being stiffed on wages. Plus, New Orleans residents -- including mayor Ray Nagin -- are not exactly rolling out the welcome mat for immigrant workers.
At any rate, New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast will serve as a fascinating sociological laboratory over the next few years. Just as immigrant labor formed the characters of New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles, population influxes redefine a location decades, if not centuries, after their first arrival.