In these times, cities need to do more to help day laborers

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LatinaLista — Though 80% of economists are saying the recession is over, for the thousands of people out of work that declaration is nothing more than wishful thinking.

Since layoffs began, we saw people with college degrees and professional careers band together in designated meeting spaces every morning to hear motivational keep-your-chin-up speeches, share a pot of coffee, network with their newfound friends and pour over job listings in the newspaper or want ads online.

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For people without a college degree, and some without even U.S. citizenship, they do the same thing — get up, go to a central location, mingle with their newfound friends and wait for a job to drive up and a willing employer who needs help with hard labor at a cheap, sometimes too cheap, a price.

Of course, the second description refers to day laborers. Across the country, groups of day laborers have grown. Once known primarily as an outlet for undocumented immigrants to offer their labor cheaply, it’s now a mix of both out-of-work citizens and undocumented labor.

That’s why a sting operation in Carlsbad, California of local day laborers, along with, other attempts across the country to keep day laborers from being able to earn a living in these hard times doesn’t make sense when people are trying to keep from asking for handouts and are willing to work for their money.

These are special times that call for humanitarian aid right in our own backyards — and cities can do much more than what they’re doing to keep day laborers safe while looking for jobs while keeping local business owners happy that day laborers aren’t waiting for jobs in front of their businesses.

From California to North Carolina, Florida to New York and all points in between, day laborers are under assault simply because these people are as desperate as anyone for any kind of job that will give them some needed cash to put food on their tables.

That these people would rather work than steal or beg should be commended. Yet, because it has been deemed that they are undocumented, they’re considered to be unworthy of surviving.

Now, that there’s a mix of both citizens and non-citizens in the day laborer pool, to conduct an immigration raid without probable evidence that there are undocumented immigrants present is the vilest form of racial profiling.

These are different times, and until immigration reform is passed, the charitable thing to do is for cities to designate certain areas of town for day laborers to congregate. Since many do not have transportation, the areas should be within easy distance from where the majority of day laborers congregate.

Those day laborers outside the designated areas would be subjecting themselves to a ticket but as long as they congregate with the rest of their colleagues, their assembly should not be seen as being any different than that other group who is lucky enough to have a pot of coffee waiting for them as they wait their turns for a job.