Each day, more than a thousand Mexican citizens flee their indigent nation to seek fortune in the land of the free. Their presence is illegal and not appreciated by most of America’s population. Evidently, current attempts at blocking the source of entry are failing. It seems that miles of bent up wire interrupted by a blockade every Timezone or two does not seem to be getting the message across: We don’t want you!
The labor that a slew of illegal migrant Mexican farm workers do is painstaking and dangerous. They work harder than I could ever see myself working and are paid in pocket change. Aged 15 to 40, these illegal aliens perform our slave labor twelve hours a day to give us what we need and take the jobs we don’t want.
The number of immigrant day laborers is rising fast on the heels of the construction boom. Immigrants who lack permanent employment, relying instead on jobs that may change from one day to the next, are a fixture of the U.S. economy, numbering as many as one million nationwide, according to advocacy groups. A substantial number of these workers -- no one knows how many -- are in the U.S. illegally.
Last month in Victorville, Calif., an anti-immigrant group called SaveOurState.org picketed a Home Depot Inc. store where day laborers congregate, while members of human-rights groups counterprotested across the street. "The debate about immigration is happening at this level -- in our neighborhoods," says Pablo Alvarado, national coordinator of the National Day Labor Organizing Network, an immigrant-rights group based in Los Angeles. Similar demonstrations have recently taken place in numerous other cities aound the United States.
Up to 25,000 day laborers gather every day at more than 100 points across Los Angeles County, according to the Center for the Study of Urban Poverty at the University of California, Los Angeles. In the New York metropolitan area, the second-largest market for these job seekers, up to 15,000 people gather at about 60 points. An estimated 80 day-labor centers operate in the U.S., and three-quarters of them have opened in the past five to seven years. Many of the centers are operated jointly by local governments and community groups. The centers are "a burgeoning policy response to the day-labor issue across the country," says Prof. Valenzuela.
Proponents of day-laborer centers say they offer a practical solution to community problems such as traffic jams and public urination associated with the laborer pickup points, and also help protect workers from being exploited. Critics say the centers provide services to illegal immigrants who are taking jobs away from Americans, and also help employers who cheat the government of tax revenue by paying workers off the books.