Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Jamie Zuieback said Sunday that the agency was asked to come to Belle Chasse Naval Air Station on Thursday by base officials. Zuieback said 10 workers were found who were not authorized to work in the United States. They were denied base access, and the agency is investigating “the circumstance surrounding their employment,” she said.
Navy spokesman Lt. (j.g.) Sean Robertson said that 13 individuals had been barred from the base. Neither he nor Zuieback could explain the discrepancy between the numbers.
The action came amid growing complaints from area electricians who say they lost their jobs at the base to lower-wage workers.
Robert “Tiger” Hammond, president of the Greater New Orleans AFL-CIO, said about 75 union electricians lost their jobs after the Bush administration temporarily suspended the Davis-Bacon Act, which guarantees the prevailing local wage for workers hired under federal contracts.
It was unclear who employed the undocumented workers. Zuieback would not give the name of the employer. Robertson said they worked for BE&K, an Alabama-based contractor, and Texas-based BMS Catastrophe.
BE&K spokeswoman Susan Wasley said no company employee had been cited, removed or barred from the base. “We haven’t done anything wrong,” she said.
BMS Catastrophe did not return calls for comment.
BE&K is a subcontractor for Halliburton, which is doing the bulk of the reconstruction work at the base. It was not clear whether BMS Catastrophe also is a Halliburton subcontractor.
OK, so bad enough they don’t hire locals, but then they bring in ILLEGAL workers – for a NAVY BASE?
Give me a break – I never know what’s worse, the corruption or the incompetence….