Analysis: The Complex Tapestry of the Undocumented Day Laborers Is Just One Strand

Source Organization: Pew Research Center


03/28/2006 - They are on Long Island, in the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia, in Atlanta and in Southern California. You can find them in the parking lots outside Home Depot in Florida and in Phoenix. Wherever they are, they will likely have four things in common. They are Latino. They are men. They are looking for work. And they are all "day laborers."

In communities grappling with this ad-hoc labor force, the term "day laborer" has become shorthand for illegal immigrant. But as ubiquitous as they are in the public debate over immigration, day laborers are only a fraction of a growing and diverse population of unauthorized migrants.

Who are the unauthorized, and how many are there? They number between 11.5 and 12 million, according to the latest Pew Hispanic Center estimate. More than three quarters (78%) migrated here from Mexico or some other Latin American country.

But beyond this prototypically Hispanic origin, the other demographic traits commonly associated with the image of the day laborer are not good descriptors of the full undocumented population.

Read the full report The Complex Tapestry of the Undocumented Day Laborers Is Just One Strand on the Pew Hispanic Center Web site.

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