SOCIAL MEDIUM: Migrant workers vulnerable

Sandra Galindo

It’s five in the morning and the workers are gathering outside the Home Depot stores all over San Diego.

They come from different cities, all in search for the opportunity to provide their families with at least their basic needs. With documents or without, every worker hopes that today will bring work.

The sky begins to lighten. The hunt for jobs starts.

“When we get in a car, we don’t know how the boss is going to treat us,” a worker says. “We go blindly because we need the jobs.”

The competition is tough. Everyone is in need, and they must be alert and watch any car that might stop, because that may mean they are looking for somebody to work some hours, or sometimes with a little luck, the whole day.

“When we get a job, we ask Diosito to take care of us so the employers don’t take advantage,” another worker says. “We are even worse off than the prostitutes because at least they know what they are going to do.”

When a car stops, all of the workers run to it and try desperately to convince the possible employer that they have experience and that they are the best workers for the job. The employer picks only two of the young and strong ones. The rest walk away with desperation in their faces.

“A guy and I were hired last week by a man that asked us to weed a slope,” a worker says. “He was driving a truck and dropped us there with a bottle of water for each of us. He looked like a nice man to us.

“We worked all day under the inclement weather, and we noticed an old lady that kept staring at us from the top of the mountain … After waiting for the person that employed us to come and pay us with no luck, we went up the mountain to ask the lady if she knew the person that hired us.

“She told us she was the only owner of that property. She said she saw us working all day and that she was sad to see someone had abused us, but definitely she could not pay us for cleaning her property.”

Every day, migrant workers endure racism and suffer in abusive workplaces. Most are seeking low-wage jobs that locals do not want to do, and most do not report abuse by their employers for fear of deportation. So the abuse continues as the migrants are easy prey for unscrupulous employers.

“We don’t want them to give us more than what we earned with our hard work,” a worker says. “We just want what is fair. We have families.”