New Orleans, La.

After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, illegal aliens flocked to New Orleans from other U.S. cities to find work – but three years after the storm, the most violent city in America is festering with crime while schools are overcrowded and immigrant births are ballooning.

The New Orleans Economic Development office estimates the city’s Hispanic population has more than tripled since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. It has risen from 15,000, or 3.3 percent of pre-Katrina residents, to 50,000, or 15 percent of today’s population.

Tulane University and the University of California, Berkeley, released a 2006 study revealing that almost half of the city’s construction labor force was Hispanic. At least 54 percent were found to be illegal aliens, and 90 percent had lived elsewhere in the U.S. before migrating to New Orleans.

As WND reported earlier, News reports indicate a flood of illegal aliens is moving South from states such as Arizona and Oklahoma – where immigration crackdowns have made life more difficult for them, and the slow housing market has made jobs scarce. In New Orleans, families are multiplying faster than hospitals and schools can accommodate them.

Overcrowded hospitals and schools

The Associated Press interviewed Kevin Work, a doctor who opened new prenatal offices and hired bilingual employees so he could make a living delivering New Orleans’ Hispanic babies.

He performs “thirty to forty deliveries a month,” he said.

Work told the AP he has helped illegal alien mothers give birth to at least 1,000 babies since the storm hit in August 2005. He said he provides payment plans to help the families afford the births, or they are covered by government programs such as Medicaid.

In 2004, Emergency Medicaid cost taxpayers $1.7 million in Metro New Orleans, according to the report. Now the government program covers five times as many people, and the cost is more than 4.5 times what it used to be – at $7.8 million.

Likewise, schools are having trouble keeping up.

Director Melinda Martinez of a Esperanza Charter School, a taxpayer-funded English-immersion institution in New Orleans, told the AP her elementary school doesn’t ask about immigration status.

In May, Esperanza Charter School teacher Judy Flores told Louisiana’s WWLTV she would never inquire about whether her students were legal.

“If I knew, I wouldn’t tell you,” Flores said. “Whether you agree or disagree, politics and that situation is outside of what our job is; our job is to make sure our students learn and feel safe in our environments.”

A full 60 percent of Esperanza students are Latino, while 30 percent are black and 10 percent are white. Each class has extensive waiting lists.

Margie McHugh, co-director of immigration integration policy at the Migration Policy Institute, told the Associated Press, “There’s no place in the world like New Orleans in terms of how rapid the population change has been.”

Soaring crime statistics

Meanwhile, the city’s streets have reportedly become some of the most dangerous places in the nation. A study conducted by Congressional Quarterly recently labeled New Orleans the most violent city in the U.S. Likewise, Foreign Policylisted it as third among its top five “murder capitals” of the world – behind only Caracas, Venezuela and Cape Town, South Africa.

Though many studies have not linked New Orleans’ crime surge to any specific cause, Foreign Policy attributes the city’s high murder rate to “grinding poverty, an inadequate school system, a prevalence of public housing and a high incarceration rate.” While New Orleans has always had high crime rates, there were 19,000 reported crimes and 208 murders in 2007 – up from the 134 homicides reported just before the storm. According to FBI crime stats, forcible rape and robberies were up substantially in 2007 as well.

Even during the city’s legendary Mardi Gras celebration this year, four people were murdered and a dozen were wounded by gunshots, according to EMS Responder. Foreign Policy reports there has also been a surge of drug-related violence since Hurricane Katrina.

“Since the hurricane struck in 2005, drug dealers have been fighting over a smaller group of users, leading to many killings,” it states.”On just one four-block stretch of Josephine Street, in the city center, four people were murdered in 2007 and 15 people shot, including a double homicide on Christmas day. A precise murder rate is hard to pinpoint because the population is swelling quickly, approaching its pre-Katrina numbers. Whether you use New Orleans’s own figures or the FBI’s, however, the city remains the most deadly in the United States, easily surpassing Detroit and Baltimore with 46 and 45 murders per 100,000 people, respectively.”

The New Orleans Times-Picayune tracks and maps the city’s homicides. The 2008 map shows too many murder victims to count – most of the victims were shot to death.

Jose Campos, 37, from El Salvador, works in New Orleans and regularly wires money home. He told the Associated Press it is a rough place.

“Life is hard here, harder than any place I’ve been in the U.S.,” he said. “It’s a dangerous place, a bad place. But when you can find work, it’s all worth it.”


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