N. Carolina day laborers receive help from Hispanic “angels”
Published March 28, 2011 | EFE
Charlotte – Members of an Hispanic group have made themselves into “angels” by offering a plate of free food to day laborers suffering the consequences of being unemployed and dealing with tightening immigration laws in North Carolina.
This is a situation that is a new one for Charlotte – which up until recently represented the “American Dream” – for many immigrants due to the abundance of jobs, for instance a group of Hispanics who meet each day between Wendover and LaTrobe streets in the southeastern part of the city.
One by one they arrived there despite the unusually low temperatures on one Spring Friday morning with the hope of finding “something to do” to earn their daily bread.
The phenomenon of the day laborers is more common in the agricultural sector in states like California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, all of which have a large immigrant presence.
Juan Nava, originally from Puebla, Mexico, who has been in Charlotte for six years and without work since last November, knows that each day he must compete with another 40 day workers to find a job doing “whatever.”
“We expose ourselves to many dangers,” he tells Efe. “Not getting paid, getting robbed, being left in a far corner of the city, but the need forces us to do it due to the lack of jobs. Sometimes I come here with $2 in my pocket and finish the day with $40.”
Meanwhile, Leo Koi, another Mexican, said that he became a day laborer after losing a stable job he’d held for 11 years due to his lack of immigration papers, but he added that he’d never failed to pay his taxes each year since he arrived in Charlotte in 1998.
“I have three American children and I never thought I’d end up like this, looking for work on a corner. Here, there was plenty of work before, but the economic situation and the immigration programs have made it hard to earn a living,” Koi said.
A Honduran, Marlon Cantor, said that he prefers looking for work on the corner, which is well-known among immigrants, rather than returning to his country where there are no jobs anyway.
“We build them their houses, skyscrapers, highways, s, ping centers, schools, and … now they don’t want us,” said Cantor.
Because of the situation caused by the lack of work facing the immigrants, a group of Samaritans from the local chapter of MIRA USA two weeks ago started providing breakfast every Friday to the day workers in the area.
MIRA is a nonprofit organization that started up in Colombia 10 years ago and moved to the United States to continue its social work.
The volunteer group now has 19 branches in 11 U.S. states.
Jonathan Castañeda, coordinator of the 50-member MIRA USA chapter in Charlotte, said that the inspiration for the Samaritan work is Jorge Muñoz, known as the “Angel of Queens,” a Colombian who years ago distributed free food to homeless people on a corner in the New York City borough and was publicly recognized by President Barack Obama.
For the day laborers, the presence of the MIRA volunteers one day a week tells them that they are not alone and that someone is looking out for them.
“By giving them hot coffee and a sandwich, I think that we motivate them to keep moving forward despite the difficult situation. This comes from our hearts and we’re not looking for recognition,” said Colombian Juan Carols Estrada.
The day laborers, emphasizes Ecuadorian immigrant Glenn Mercado, are people who suffer racism and other types of mis but are very worthwhile because they are good workers.
While day laborers and others have these problems, the MIRA group in Charlotte will continue distributing hope and sharing plates of food.
Source: Fox News Latino