Latina Theology is a lived theology
Yesterday I visited Casa Juan Diego where hurricane survivors are still receiving assistance with food, medicine and transportation. Latinas and Latinos were not present at the Astrodome. Their story is one of no information, no access to US government resources, no access to Red Cross resources. Immigrants who were working in the states hit by Katrina and Rita, running like everyone else, having nowhere to turn and fearing deportation, integrated into the Houston poor Latino households.
I am often told that poor uneducuated latinos need better theology, I disagree. I think the burden is on theologians to accompany the poor and discern, then reflect, and hopefully publish widely. No theological, rational, western treatise has yet interpreted, reflected theologically, about the Gospel conversations in hundreds of poor homes here in Houston where Latino families housed refugees. Homes had to scramble to find extra food. The 2000-year old admonition of Matthew 25:35 is alive and there can be no more powerful theological interepretation, explication than those Spanish-language household conversations around: “For I was hungry and you gave me to drink, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you took me in.”
Oh, while I was at Casa Juan Diego I was told that contractors from the Gulf states are taking dozens of the men from Casa Juan Diego and elsewhere to work in reconstruction. Imagine that: undocumented workers. Did Bush have this in mind when he issued his executive order on September 8th suspending the Davis-Bacon law and thus allowing federal contractors building in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to pay below the prevailing wage. The prevailing wage for construction in New Orleans is about nine dollars an hour……..they will now get less than that.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Bush issued an executive order Thursday allowing federal contractors rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to pay below the prevailing wage.
In a notice to Congress, Bush said the hurricane had caused “a national emergency” that permits him to take such action under the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act in ravaged areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Bush’s action came as the federal government moved to provide billions of dollars in aid, and drew rebukes from two of organized labor’s biggest friends in Congress, Rep. George Miller of California and Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, both Democrats.
“The administration is using the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to cut the wages of people desperately trying to rebuild their lives and their communities,” Miller said.
“President Bush should immediately realize the colossal mistake he has made in signing this order and rescind it and ensure that America puts its people back to work in the wake of Katrina at wages that will get them and their families back on their feet,” Miller said.
“I regret the president’s decision,” said Kennedy.
“One of the things the American people are very concerned about is shabby work and that certainly is true about the families whose houses are going to be rebuilt and buildings that are going to be restored,” Kennedy said.