On a corner in San Rafael, day laborers wait — and worry

May 10, 2017

You’ve probably seen them: groups of men looking for work, standing in front of Home Depot or waiting on corners of busy thoroughfares. These men are day laborers, looking for short-term work ranging from gardening to painting. On any given day there are almost 120,000 of them looking for work in the United States; about 40 percent are here in California.

Hiring day laborers informally is not illegal, but those work contracts can get muddy quickly, especially if the worker is an undocumented immigrant. A 2004 national study found that 80 percent of California’s day laborers are undocumented. Looking for this kind of work has become even riskier under President Trump, who has promised to triple the number of immigration agents and remove all undocumented immigrants from the United States.

A note: we’ve changed the names of some of the people in this story for their protection.

 

ROBERTO: We want to [go back home], but they want to kill us there ... we are here out of necessity for our children, our wives, our family.

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