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Interpreting the Evidence

Brookhaven Citizens for Peaceful Solutions Proposal for Hiring Site, 2005

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Contemporary United States (1965 - present)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    Long Island
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Brookhaven Citizens for Peaceful Solutions Proposal for Hiring Site, 2005 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Leaflet from Brookhaven Citizens for Peaceful Solutions proposing a solution to the strife caused by day laborers’ presence in communities while awaiting work, 2005.
Historical Context
In the late 1990s, Mexican workers, many of them illegal immigrants, moved to suburban towns on Long Island and to areas surrounding New York City, as well as to other parts of the nation. This influx of Hispanic immigrants continued for at least a decade. Most were able to get employment on a day-to-day basis in the landscaping, construction, and restaurant industries. These day laborers are called jornaleros. Although many of the towns’ citizens were happy to have cheaper services available to them via these workers who accepted low wages, they were unhappy about their presence in primarily upper-class neighborhoods.

Business owners who hired the workers claimed local economies would be devastated without Mexicans' work in these low-paying and sometimes dangerous jobs.  But the workers and their families often faced horrible treatment at the hands of wealthy people who benefited most from their labor.

Racial tensions often erupted into hate crimes.  The victims and targets were not only the laborers and their families, but also the people who tried to protect the immigrants’ human and civil rights.  Communities were torn apart in the struggle to balance residents’ concerns with those of the day laborers.

Today, jornaleros number in the hundreds of thousands across the United States. In some states like Maryland, these day laborers have fought for and won legal “shape-up” sites where they wait for day job assignments and cultural centers. Their struggle has also won financial support from the state. Jornaleros in Los Angeles have made the city provide nine shape-up centers that also provide English-language and computer classes and other services. “One thing that happens here is that workers stand tall, they look at people face to face as equals, not seeking their permission, not as oppressed people or men begging for jobs, but as persons with pride,” said Pablo Alvarado, national coordinator of National Day Labor Organizing Network, “because you can’t intimidate people who have pride.”

In contrast, some workers come from states where there is absolutely no support for day laborers despite Alvarado's assertion, “We are not terrorists, we are not violent; all we want is work. We are not taking jobs. Latinos are here to work for their families.”
Essential Question
How do immigrants impact local communities?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of this poster and explain why hiring sites were necessary.
Historical Challenges
In the past in the U.S., immigrant workers have played a major role in aiding the economy and communities in which they lived. Research a group of immigrant workers and try to discover what, if any, difficulty the group faced from people who came to the U.S. before they did.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Art: Design a poster that would appeal to both workers and community members that proposes a meeting to find solutions to some of the problems faced by both sides. Use colorful drawings that convey the meaning of the meeting at a glance.
Spanish: Choose some key Spanish phrases for the poster that would appeal to non-English- speaking Mexicans.
English Language Arts: Write an imaginary dialogue of how you think the meeting would proceed.