Day Laborers the New Face of Public Space

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Migration throughout the United States has increased immensely over the years. As more individuals enter the United States illegally their hope is to live and attain a better life due to better job opportunities they can attain. However most of these immigrants face challenges as they look for employment due to their illegal status, so they rely in selling their labor in public spaces and they become known as day laborers. There has been academic literature that describes and impacts the challenges that day laborers encounter as they seek employment in the public space, such as economic problems, and health issues. Nevertheless the day laborers have a goal to transform the public space into a regulated hiring site that they can control. It is evident that there is anti-immigrant and local community groups that are not in favor of having day laborers occupy the public space. These groups believe that they need to keep their community protected and day laborers just become another social problem that should be dealt with. This research project aims to answer the following question: how do day laborers avoid trouble and cope with the challenges they encounter with police authority, communities, or residents of the area as they solicit employment in the public space? I took a case study approach, which included field observations in Home Depots and content analysis: such as newspaper articles, blogs, and police records regarding day laborers, community, and public space. Three different Home Depot in the Los Angeles area were observed, and there were a total of twelve observations done and each was observed four times. Public records from three different police departments were also retrieved and twelve articles, newspaper articles, and blog articles were also used as data collection. My results were accurate with my argument, I argue that the community around these home improvement stores does not have a problem with day laborers, because they were as a community, they shift the communities negative views to positive, and they are aware that they attain laws that protect them. Through my findings the important themes that helped my develop and prove my argument were bringing people together, shift of negative to positive connotations of day laborers, and individual rights/ laws.


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