For Manny Castro, executive director of the local organization New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), day laborers often bear the brunt of that anti-immigrant sentiment.
“They are such a visible representation of immigrants in the United States and New York,” Castro said. “People claim they’re loitering and causing trouble. In reality, they’re just looking for work.”
NICE, located in Jackson Heights, runs a center for day laborers. It offers a job-hiring dispatch in the mornings, connecting laborers to jobs in industries like construction.
The organization also supports immigrant workers with wage theft claims and other labor-related violations.
Castro said even though most of the laborers are here looking to better their lives, they’re often targeted by local authorities for loitering or transit violations.
“They crossed the border, then crossed the entire country to get to New York. We should be welcoming and supportive of what they’ve been through,” he said. “Instead, they’ve often been met with resistance.”
Many who work in construction also face dangerous conditions on the job, which is why NICE is pushing the passage of Carlos’ Law, which would protect workers from employers who fail to comply with required safety protocol.
The bill is named after Carlos Moncayo, an immigrant worker who was buried alive at a construction site in 2015.
“We have members putting their lives at risk to build this city,” Castro said. “It’s only fair to say these workers are able to access justice like everyone else.”