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On A Corner In San Rafael, Day Laborers Wait — And Worry

Ninna Gaensler-Debs
Two day laborers wait for work

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. 

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 remove all undocumented immigrants from the United States. Just a few weeks ago, ICE officials arrested 680 people working illegally at a Mississippi factory. It could happen here.

We wanted to understand what life is like for people who work as a day laborers. So a few years back, we went to meet them. 
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.

Click the play button above to listen to the story. 

This story originally aired in May of 2017.