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  1. #1
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
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    The Urban Migrants

    www.nytimes.com

    July 20, 2005
    The Urban Migrants
    By ROBEN FARZAD
    RIVERHEAD, N.Y. - Eight years ago, Sister Margaret Rose Smyth had to go out of her way to find illegal immigrants who might need her help, listening for Spanish conversations at the Kmart on the North Fork of Long Island.

    Now every day, Sister Margaret, a Roman Catholic nun who is the director of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate, typically sees off two early-morning buses filled with laborers seeking work along the Long Island Expressway, giving them business tips and moral support.

    By the time her workday ends 12 hours later, she has met with scores of other workers seeking her advice on everything from alcoholism and burial arrangements to documents and wages.

    "The housing and construction boom has more people working," Sister Margaret said, noting that now she sees 1,000 immigrants from Mexico and Central America, most of them undocumented, at church each week.

    "Somebody made it to Riverhead and got the word out," she said.

    Indeed, the housing boom, with its promise of consistent and better-paying work, has in the last five years attracted undocumented laborers not just to Long Island, but also to hot housing markets across the country - among them the areas around Chicago; Washington; Freehold, N.J.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Jupiter, Fla.

    But unlike the agricultural work that traditionally drew immigrant laborers to little-populated areas of the country, construction labor is conspicuously in the heart of the suburbs, with laborers gathering in Home Depot parking lots, outside convenience stores and on street corners.

    Many are remaining in the suburbs afterward to do landscaping, painting, kitchen renovations and other home improvement work.

    In the process, longtime residents are being forced to confront the issue of illegal immigration as never before, dotting the national map with dozens of new battlefronts in the debate on workers living in the United States without legal status.

    While the nature of illegal immigration makes exact numbers hard to come by, the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization, estimates that the unauthorized migrant population jumped by 25 percent from 2000 to 2004, to at least 10.3 million. About 20 to 25 percent of the entire construction work force in this country, the center estimated, is undocumented.

    Abel Valenzuela Jr., a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has canvassed more than 80 worker sites nationwide, estimates that 75 to 85 percent of all day labor is in home construction, repair and landscaping.

    "The housing boom and construction is driving the day labor issue into the suburbs," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a research organization that favors tighter immigration controls. The growing presence of illegal immigrants has been burden on local hospitals and schools and is "sparking political activism at the local level," he said. "Until now," he added, "there hasn't been enough of a catalyst to get local people speaking out."

    But Rakesh Kochhar, associate director for research at the Pew Hispanic Center, said that it would be unfair to characterize illegal immigrants as a drain on society, noting that many of them pay taxes but are ineligible for government services. Moreover, he said, they contribute to a critical sector of the economy. "Construction day laborers are responding to a demand, and definitely filling a need," he said. "If you took away that labor force, I doubt it would have a positive effect."

    Freehold, N.J. - the subject of the Bruce Springsteen song "My Hometown" - is one place the debate has surfaced, as local residents cope uneasily with the growing number of immigrant workers who seek construction and landscaping jobs in western Monmouth County.

    "Freehold is being used as day labor central," said Marc LeVine, a former councilman in the blue-collar borough who founded Pressing Elected Officials to Protect Our Living Environment - with the acronym People - to campaign against illegal immigration. "There's a culture clash and animosity toward not just the workers, but the wealthy people who demand the day labor."

    Mr. LeVine estimates that Freehold is now home to at least 3,000 to 4,000 illegal immigrants, a significant fraction of the borough's recognized population of 11,000 people who were counted in the 2000 census. That off-the-books population increase, Mr. LeVine said, has strained schools and hospitals and driven up taxes. "Nobody is sending us money to help us with these costs," he said. "This cannot be a free-for-all."

    Accordingly, Freehold has become a nationally recognized hot spot in the immigration debate. In April, the United Patriots of America, a group that recruits what it calls minutemen to locate and report illegal immigrants, was blocked by protesters from holding a meeting in Freehold. When it tried to reconvene at a nearby sports arena in June, dozens of protesters showed up. Police in SWAT gear stood by.

    One point of contention is the formalization and public financing of locations where day laborers gather to get employment from contractors who increasingly rely on them for spot work like painting, roofing and marble cutting. Advocates of immigrant rights are petitioning municipalities to pay for these formal hiring centers - which may vary from a large tent with a portable toilet to an air-conditioned trailer to a whole building - to address the complaints of loitering and littering and the danger of workers chasing after vans.

    "Day laborer sites are the visible face of the immigration issue," said Pablo Alvarado, a former day laborer who now runs the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, an umbrella organization for such work sites. "One hundred men in the street is a very real thing."

    But proponents of immigration control argue that formal hiring centers amount to an official sanctioning of illegal labor that will only draw more workers to an area, creating inevitable overflows and a return to street corner congregations.

    In Jupiter, Fla., a popular destination for homeowners fleeing north from the sprawl of South Florida, construction permits have increased 50 percent in the last two years. Not coincidentally, so many day laborers have come to the area in recent years that the town is moving forward with plans for a municipally financed hiring center.

    "I call it an illegal hiring hall," said John Slattery, a mortgage broker who founded Jupiter Neighbors Against Illegal Labor in response to what he said has been an influx of 5,000 illegal immigrants over the last three years. "We're talking about a sleepy little town here that now has an illegal barrio with drugs and gangs," he said. "Now, the government wants to facilitate it instead of stopping it."

    Similar debates are taking place in the Washington metropolitan area, where, according to the National Association of Realtors, the median price for a single-family home surged 22.7 percent into the first quarter of this year. A survey commissioned last year by Fairfax County in Northern Virginia found that at least 80 percent of the area's day laborers, not all of them illegal, were doing construction work.

    "There's a boom in construction here and willing" workers, said Gustavo Torres, who heads Casa de Maryland, a hiring site in another Washington suburb, Takoma Park, Md. "It's a perfect match."

    The county has reserved nearly $400,000 for at least three new day labor sites. In Herndon, Va., about 30 miles west of Washington, day laborers have been gathering in the parking lot of a local 7-Eleven store. Town officials are now considering a proposal for a formal site with restrooms, parking for contractors and even English classes and social services for men who do not get hired in the morning.

    "Our tax money should be used to protect our borders," said Dennis Baughan, a realtor and retired schoolteacher in Herndon who has organized a group of 150 residents opposed to the day laborer hiring centers. "If you build a formal site it sends a message to Mexico and South America to show up."

    Mr. Baughan said that he had observed the Casa de Maryland center numerous times. The site, he said, typically assists 70 laborers a day, but he said he had seen 500 men soliciting construction jobs on the streets surrounding it. "That will happen here, too," he said.

    The economic rewards of construction-related day labor are obvious. Workers who have known the instability of agricultural wages and tip-driven food delivery say they can clear $500 in cash on good weeks; higher-skilled laborers, like tile cutters and electricians, earn more. In addition, construction work often lasts for several weeks, and subcontractors tend to reward the best workers with repeat job offers. Mr. Alvarado said that while visiting gathering spots in the Chicago and Atlanta area, he saw police officers parking their cars in front of sites and ticketing laborers for jaywalking and littering. "They basically do this to discourage the men from showing up," he said. "Where are their civil rights?"

    A recent survey of day labor in the Washington area by the Center for the Study of Urban Poverty at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that more than half of workers questioned reported that they had been cheated out of wages and one-quarter reported being injured on a job.

    Sister Margaret of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate said she has a "logjam" of cases of laborers not being paid. She carries a box of more than 40 reports of abuse, like a contractor who slaps his workers and bosses who deduct sums as "taxes" that they then pocket.

    Sister Margaret says she worries that she is only seeing a fraction of the true total. "Many of the men," she says, "would rather tolerate abuse and injury than get deported."
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  2. #2

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    So why isn't the INS raiding these day labor hiring spots?
    Why are not the local cops checking for drugs when tese places start to fill up?

    Maybe I'm just stupid or slow witted... but like the man said when asked why he robbed the bank... "Thats where the money is"
    Lt. Col. North Carolina Confederate Militia

  3. #3
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    ArthurC!!

    WELCOME TO ALIPAC!!

    Better yet, IF they are paying taxes, those returns would show:

    1) who they are
    2) where they live
    3) who they work for
    4) their telephone number

    A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation - Ronald Reagan
    Save America, Deport Congress! - Judy

    Support our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & Amnesty by joining our E-mail Alerts at https://eepurl.com/cktGTn

  4. #4
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Oooh....I forgot and:

    5) ROUND UP!!

    Where is Elliott Ness when you need him? Wasn't he that really cool guy in the US Treasury Department that took down the Mafia Gangs all over the country?

    Now, that man knew how to find people!!

    Ooooh, but I'm sure that under today's legal environment that would not be politically correct procedure unless you an American Citizen caught eating a french fry at a subway station.

    A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation - Ronald Reagan
    Save America, Deport Congress! - Judy

    Support our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & Amnesty by joining our E-mail Alerts at https://eepurl.com/cktGTn

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