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Immigrants legal and illegal not finding work

November 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
With the unemployment crisis, day laborers are taking over work that has been often done by undocumented immigrants. "Most of us have kids to feed," said Eric Gonzalez, a day laborer. Gonzalez said that he can't find a day's work.

Each morning, Gonzales and many others come to a North Hollywood day laborer camp site in search of good, skilled positions like construction work, yet there's been nothing.

"It's really hard. Especially when there's nothing coming up," said Gonzalez.

Lucio Rosario has been an undocumented day laborer for nearly 20 years. Lately, not even he can find work.

Rosario says that there are people who do have their documents and are legal and that they are taking his jobs.

Gonzalez and Lucio say when the job market and the economy tanked, immigrant day laborers like them took a backseat to out-of-work job seekers who were born in the U.S.

A UCLA study released several years ago show that U.S. citizens made up 7 percent of the day labor workforce. The study found that 70 percent of day laborers were illegal immigrants, and the rest were legal immigrants.

Now experts on the subject say the number of U.S.-born day laborers has at least doubled since the study was released.

"We are seeing here in California, because the majority of day laborers here are Latinos, we are seeing more people with documents going to the corners and citizens going to the corners, even contractors coming to Home Depot looking for work. These people, in the past, were hiring day laborers. Now, they're looking for work at Home Depot," said Antonio Bernabe, a day labor organizer.

Experts say that whether a worker is undocumented or documented is not the question. The most skilled are getting the jobs.


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