Sunday, January 08, 2006

N.O. now dependent on illegal Latino immigrant labor

"The sudden rush of Latino immigrant workers to the Gulf Coast in Katrina's aftermath has thrown into sharp relief the existence of an identifiable worker caste, a class of people at once economically essential and socially marginal. It is a national corps of day laborers, and what is happening here provides a glimpse of its inner workings.

It turns on a dime at the whisper of a dollar. Its members, alone or in crews, follow the jobs. They are drawn by word of mouth, dispatched by a nationwide network of staffing agencies, or corralled and deployed by the sometimes shadowy cadre of job brokers and construction subcontractors who provide the link -- and the layers of deniability -- between reputable businesses and the underground economy."

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