October, 19, 2005 - 06:33 PM / ET

USHCC Deplores Remarks by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Regarding Mexican Workers and the Rebuilding of New Orleans

Washington, DC--(HISPANIC PR WIRE)--October 19, 2005--In response to recent comments by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin regarding Mexican workers and their efforts to the clean-up and rebuilding of the city, the Unites States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) issued the following statement:

“At a time when this great country has united to lend a helping hand to those affected by the ravages of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the USHCC, finds the recent public statement by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to be offensive, divisive and highly inappropriate.

Mr. Nagin’s reference to ‘make sure that New Orleans is not overrun by Mexican workers,’ published in the Friday, October 7th edition of The Dallas Morning News, is simply unacceptable during a time of national unity and support in which national Hispanic organizations, such as the USHCC and countless others, are donating funds, time and resources to the clean-up and rebuilding of this incredibly diverse and dynamic city. To be confronted with comments of this nature that highlight prejudice and division, coming from a public official that represents an important minority group, is a huge disappointment.

Mayor Nagin fails to recognize that Mexican immigrants are not simply “job takers”, they are also job creators who pay billions of dollars in federal, state and local taxes. Immigrant hands helped to build this nation and it is immigrant hands that will help to rebuild New Orleans. In fact, a number of the affected businesses in the hardest-hit areas were Hispanic-owned – nearly 8,000 businesses in Louisiana, more than 2,500 in Alabama and over 1,300 in Mississippi were Hispanic-owned enterprises.

Mexicans represent the fastest-growing segment of the American population, and Mexican-Americans have fostered a rich and strong legacy in this nation. Some of our most prominent civic and business leaders – including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, SBA Administrator Hector Barreto, Jr., New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa - are of Mexican descent, among countless others.

As the largest advocate of Hispanic-owned businesses in the country, Mexican-Americans make up a considerable portion our membership. The USHCC cannot tolerate the divisive philosophy demonstrated in Mayor Nagin’s recent commentary, and we will not allow inappropriate and offensive comments such as those made by Mayor Nagin and others to deter the hardworking spirit of our community.”

About the USHCC

The USHCC represents the interests of more than 2 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States and Puerto Rico, which earn more than $250 billion annually. It serves as the umbrella organization for more than 210 local Hispanic chambers nationwide and it actively promotes the economic growth and development of Hispanic entrepreneurs.