A Day In A Life of A Day Laborer
When there is a large enough need for something in the United States, it will be met, even if meeting that need means allowing certain groups to easily enter the country to do the work that needs to be done; to do the work that perhaps no one else may be willing to do. Today, some perceive these groups as a necessity, but also as targets. Although day laborers have existed in California for a very long time, it wasn’t until the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, with a rise in day laborers, that they have become an issue and a focus in politics when looking at the effects upon our economy. I. An Overview and Historical Perspective of Day Laborers * Definition of Day Laborers
Before looking at the different perspectives of day laborers, we can get further insight by first examining the definition of this type of worker. According to the Los Angeles Relations Committee; Day Laborer Hiring Sites, “a day laborer is a person, (usually men) who offer themselves to be hired as labor for a day, or some other temporary basis. The term also refers to skilled or unskilled workers.” “Day laborers refer to people, usually men, who gather on sidewalks, parking lots, near building supply stores, or wherever they can be visible to potential employers, waiting to get hired for short-term jobs, whether it be cleaning a yard, moving heavy furniture, putting on a new roof, or painting a room.” (LACNTYPub) A. The national survey indicates that the overwhelming numbers of day laborers are Latino men. UCLA Professor Narro researched and found that “more than half (59 percent) of day laborers were born in Mexico.” (APubProfNarro) Because most day laborers come from Mexico, they travel north to find work in the United States, entering either legally or illegally. These controversial immigrant laborers are then found on corners selling fruit and cold water; they can be found mowing our lawns, and digging our trenches as we construct our homes and skyscrapers. They are looked upon as an example of an underground economy, penetrating neighborhoods all around us. Since most people perceive day laborers as undocumented workers, politicians have often become involved due to frequent community complaints from residents, businesses, and law enforcement. Politically, immigration has been a wedge issue and often divides politicians, making immigrants an easy target as a topic of debate and political campaigning. B. Day laborers are more than willing to take on those jobs that Americans don’t want; the popular one’s being agriculture, landscaping, and household help. Americans do not realize that they are saving us so much money. By them taking on those menial jobs for instance, picking fruit they earn low-wages, thus we do not pay a lot for that fruit in the grocery stores. Illegal immigrants are the driving force behind the economy’s growth with all the goods and services produced in the United States. The Economist’s View website states, "[E]conomists concede that [some] ... native-born Americans may be hurt by competition from illegal immigrants who are willing to work cheaply. But any harm, they say, is outweighed by the benefits to the overall economy. ... Restaurant prices are pushed down by illegal labor in the kitchen, fruit and vegetable prices by illegal field hands, new-home prices by illegal dry wallers.” (ecvwwebsite) There are other benefits that may be less apparent, such as the rise in property values by homeowners. Their homes or apartments may be poorly maintained, but at least the numbers have a profound effect especially in a state that never has enough housing; including the hundreds of thousands of units rented to immigrant families putting the upward pressure on prices. Either way, immigrants are paid much lower than the average American worker and can be dependent on showing up to work every day and on time. Whether illegal or legal, immigrants and their families are just...
References: “Day Laborer Program.” http://cdd.lacity.org/emp_empday.html. Community Development Department. n.d. March 9, 2012.
Fausset, Richard, "A Southern Accent On Day Laborers." LA Times
Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission. Day Laborer Hiring Sites; Constructive Approaches To Community Conflict. Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, 2001
Narro, Victor Professor
Semple, Kirk, "Most Ironbound Day Laborers Report Being Cheated." The New York Times 27 July, 2010 http://www.cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com
“The Plight of Immigrant Day Laborers: Why they Deserve Protection Under the Law.” DeLeon-Vargas Analiz
Thoma, Mark, "Immigration is Good." Economist View 01 Oct. 2006. http://www.economistview.typepad.com
April 4, 2012
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