Day Laborers – Poor, Ignored and Often Cheated – Get Help from an Upper Manhattan Immigrant Group

By Joseph Leo and Jonathan Wilson


Day Laborers got a win on Thursday. There will be more funding for day laborers thanks to the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrants Rights (NMCIR). The coalition received city approval for a  $217,000 contract that will grow their services to struggling immigrants. The approved contract will add funding for training and other support of day laborers.

NMCIR is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1982 and provides legal services, community organizing, and English as a Second Language (ESOL) classes. The coalition will now provide training to comply with protective regulations of the federal Occupatio

nal Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The center will do this at its main location in Washington Heights, Manhattan. The $217,000 approved on Thursday is strictly for day laborers. However, the non-profit organization did receive $125,000 earlier this year for education purposes, specifically for its ESOL classes.

Luis Cortes, the director of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, said, “What we are doing is connecting the community. We want to expand the possibility for more quality services.”

NMCIR has 1,900 people working with them and half of them are day laborers. The funding in Thursday’s contract is going to help those day laborers. They are part of a program that NMCIR launched in January.

Day laborers are generally men, most often from Latin America, who stand in certain parts of the city waiting for contractors or home owners to stop near them and offer they work. They are often cheated out of their expected payments.

Cortes said MNCIR is trying hard to get more funding so it can help people on its waiting list. Most day laborers have no formal training, nor do they have a place to meet and seek guidance. In today’s political climate, organizations like MNCIR are continuing to show energetic support for the immigrant community. However, the work that such non-profits do often goes unnoticed by the general public, even while it has a positive impact on members of the community who are off the public radar screen.

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