LOS TRABAJADORES / THE WORKERS

Day Labor Quiz


talkback

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11/22/04
Aileen Makinen
UT Austin-school of social work
For me, viewing the video Los Trabajadores was not the eye opening introduction that it was for many of my classmates, for I have had personal contact and relationships with some illegal Mexican immigrants in the past. I used to work at a hunting ranch in south Texas, and many illegal immigrants were working there at that time. I was able to get a tiny glimpse into their way of life, and spoke with and made friends with a few workers. I speak fluent Spanish. Fortunately for these workers, the ranch owner treated them relatively well, compared to the day laborers on the film. They had home cooked meals, shelter, and were paid regularly.

This film not only reminded me of my experience with meeting and getting to know some day laborers, but it again reiterated the tradegy of their circumstances. I agree with my classmate Jonelle, when she depicted a scene of the day laborers being picked up at the day labor site and hurded like animals. This is unacceptable. I wish that this film could be marketed and seen on network television for all Americans to see. We desperately need some people to step up and advocate for the rights of these workers. The fact that they are responsible for developing the growth in Austin needs to be uncovered to our society. They absolutely need to be afforded better treatment, pay, and rights that any other construction worker would receive. My outrage lies with the big development and construction company owners, that they not only allow this treatment to continue, but that they endorse it in order to make a buck. What happened to human decency of treatment in the work place? This needs to be exposed for what it is, plain and simply bad business, and worse maltreatment of fellow human beings. As social workers, we as professionals will spend time trying to help the disenfranchised and underprivileged in our world. But what of the duty of the rest of the people in our society? With exposure to this film I would like to think that they too would feel compelled to take some form of action against such violations of civil liberties afforded to us all.

11/22/04
Allen Pittman
Graduate Student
University of Texas School of Social Work

I found the film Los Trabajadores to be an inspiring and heartbreaking work that paints a fair picture of Immigrant workers in Austin and the difficulties they face daily. This film makes for an excellent analysis of how issues of racism are carried out in America and how this racism is justified by many Americans.

A main function of creating and maintaining negative stereotypes about a group of people is to dehumanize that group. Superficial observations and preconceived notions do an amazing job of creating an image of immigrant workers that is palatable to the American public. If the Austin citizens who protested the relocation of the day labor camp to their neighborhood thought of the immigrant laborers as hard working and honest people who sent their money home to their families and wanted a slice of the "American Dream," (which they are), those citizens would have a hard time protesting the people who literally build the walls of Austin. The citizens found it much easier to think of the workers as a people who have "mental health problems," "alcohol problems," and people who simply "don't get employed." By perpetuating these negative stereotypes, some American's can "justify" racist attitudes under the fa�ade of "documentation" qualms. Blatant prejudiced attitudes on the basis of "race science" have become pass' these days, so a new form of discrimination grows in its place--elaborate justifications used as code-words and innuendos. It was quite amusing (and scary) to listen to the "justifications" Austin residents employed when they attempted to describe their fear regarding the immigrant workers. These fears ranged from aesthetics of the neighborhood to a population boom of a seemingly catastrophic proportion in the next fifty years. Behind all of these fears are the finely tuned mechanics of a racist society.

The question then becomes, what can American's do to counter the injustice perpetrated against Immigrant workers? What can possibly counter the exploitation carried out daily against these hard workers who literally help sustain the Austin economy and who are willing to do the jobs "natives" simply won't do? My answer would be that films such as Los Trabajadores are a good start. When people are forced to examine the basis of their stereotypes and fears, they are forced to reconsider what they hold as truth. Prejudices that blanket an entire ethnic group in America do not hold up well when workers are seen as humans just trying to survive and eke by to support their families across the border. America was founded as a country where one can create a decent life through hard work and determination. This ethos conveniently applies to whites and "natives" and dissolves when referring to anyone who does not fit the neat mold a mainstream American.

11/22/04
Coleen M. MSSW
Austin, TX
Student UT Texas

I have not lived in Austin long enough to know the local conditions, however, in my home state of California, there is a also a community of Mexican immigrants and Central American immigrants who pursue work in the U.S. at the cost of being close to their families. In the SF Bay Area, (especially in the East Bay) there seems to be a more relaxed and inclusive feeling about working with immigrants who may or may not be illegal but who "need to work." (Perhaps this is because of "underground" non-profit organizations that help bridge the gap between available labor and temporary work.) I think speaking the language helps a lot. At least that was my experience.

As I was watching Los Trabajadores, I could not help but think about how much intense difficulty these men and their families are faced with. It is not just about being able to work in the U.S. and then sending the money home to Mexico. There are larger issues at stake. These are families are being raised without their fathers. The same fathers who organize to make their collective situation better are the same men who may not be home (Mexico) to know the voices of their children. The economic injustice that is being played out in the effects of daily prejudice, the prospect of low wages, and collective guilt for being "the absent provider" are more than just symptoms. Both the U.S. and Mexico need to create policy to address these issues.

11/22/04
Austin, TX
Graduate Student in Social Work

"We are blocked from action by the fear and insecurity that we have been taught" (Adams, Blumenfeld, Castaneda, Hackman, & Zuniga, 2000, p. 20). In the documentary, Los Trabajadores, we see how the residential community's fear of immigrants fuels their protests and race-centered arguments. In order for individuals to help new immigrants succeed in America, we must confront this fear that has been taught to us by our families, friends, and schools. Are we afraid for our safety or the safety of our children? Are we afraid that in these harsh economic times, job opportunities will be snatched away from us? Or are we afraid of something that can not be understood? Can America not come to understand the great sacrifices that immigrants like Ram�n and Juan made for their families? They have risked their very own lives crossing the border to come and work the hardest, least respected jobs in order to provide for their family. I ask, "Where is the fear in that?"

If immigrants were given the opportunity establish themselves as good neighbors in their communities, I would encourage them to tell their stories like Ram�n's and Juan's did in Los Trabajadores. At the University of Texas Graduate School of Social Work, social work students were given the opportunity to dialogue about diversity through a method called "Story circles". The classes divided into groups of eight or nine, and in these groups, individuals were given the opportunity to share a personal story related to the topic of diversity. Listening to other peoples' stories and experiencing connectedness helps us visualize how "seemingly personal troubles often have social and economic roots" (Loeb, 1999, p. 56).

Adams, Maurianne, Blumenfeld, Warren J., Casteneda, Rosie, Hackman, Heather W., Peters, Madeline L., & Zuniga, Ximena. (2000). Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. New York, NY: Routledge.

Loeb, P.R. (1999). Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press.

11/22/04
Gail D.Park
UT Austin School of Social Work

Watching this film had special meaning for me. I just finished a cultural immersion assignment with an oppressed population of which I knew very little. My cultural guide was a Mexican immigrant. I was shocked at the stereotypes I carried around, especially since I did not think I had any. One valuable lesson of the assignment was to break down those stereotypes and to humanize the immigrant population. Therefore, watching this film felt very familiar and served to underscore the importance of breaking stereotypes of Mexican workers, humanizing their situation, and empowering them to fight social and economic injustice.

One of the many powerful images in the film was the one in which Mexican workers were shown working at the construction site of a private marina. The name of this upscale development was, ironically, Spanish (Costa Bella). Unfortunately, the juxtaposition of Mexican workers and luxury living is all too common, particularly in the high-growth corridors of Austin and surrounding areas.

The film was able to provide some balance and perspective in its portrayal of Whites. For example, predominantly White contractors driving up to the day labor sites were depicted as being anywhere from blatantly racist to sounding supportive of the workers. White police officers were shown working on behalf of the workers along with the county attorney, Mark Martinez, and Gus Garcia. However, most attitudes seemed to be negative, especially from Caucasian neighborhood protesters.

Most importantly, the plight of the Mexican workers and their families was sensitively constructed. Following the lives of Ramon and Juan was an enlightening process and tragic as well. It was important to hear their voices and understand their experiences of what it was like to be treated unfairly.

More of the general public needs to hear statements like "We're helping build Austin - We don't come to bring problems - We're honest workers" from Mexican workers and also statements like "We didn't even know the site was there - We didn't understand" from White neighbors. One of the workers stated that in a while they'll find out we're not what they think. Learning from my recent immersion experience, I believe that is exactly what breaking down stereotypes is all about.

11/22/04
Hilary Tokheim
Austin, TX
The Los Trabajadores film allowed me to hear the voices of the day laborers and understand their plight in a way that I had not previously. What is frustrating is that this isn't something everyone is watching and is why there is such ignorance and fear. The lack of exposure to others and the inability to get to know them as human beings is what feeds our system with injustices. The day laborers are being lumped into a category characterized by alcoholism and crime. I wonder how the community would feel knowing that these men have left their homes and families in order to provide for them; and how they might feel in the same situation? We are all just people! No one better than the next, just people trying to live the best lives we can.

What struck me as a White American when watching the film was when the question was posed: "Who is building this country?" Honestly, I had never thought about it in this particular way before. What would happen if the frustration and anger peaked one day and they all left the US? I would venture to say many in the community would feel a sense of loss. It's shameful that many White Americans reap the benefits of their presence yet have such an utter lack of respect for the laborers as human beings.

11/22/04
Kelli Larsen
Austin, TX
School of Social Work

This film was an amazing portrayal of the injustice experienced by immigrants in the United States. Following actual life stories helped to make these issues personal and real. I think that the problem is fear. This community had an irrational fear of immigrants in their neighborhoods; the fear that they would "taint" their area and harm their children. Their fear is rooted in ignorance based on stereotypes, and unfortunately is easily spread.

The abuse of immigrants by refusing to pay them for their work is infuriating. These individuals are aware of the fear immigrants have of law enforcement, and prey upon their fear. It was comforting to see the support of the law enforcement in encouraging them to report these incidences; however, I wonder how often this support is really offered. I think raising more awareness and security among immigrants in reporting unethical behavior such as refusal to pay wages is needed.

It's important for those who oppose immigrants entering the United States to consider their family history and the possible discrimination that their relatives encountered upon immigration to this country. Films such as this allow individuals to confront stereotypes that they hold and hopefully prevent them from spreading these stereotypes to their children.

11/22/04
Kristan Lennon
Austin, TX
UT Austin-School of Social Work

Almost every day as I drive to work or school, I pass by the First Workers' Day Labor Site. However, until I recently viewed the film, I was unaware of the struggles and challenges faced by these immigrant workers.

After viewing the film, one cannot help but to feel compassion for the immigrant workers, especially in light of the desperation that has lead these hardworking men to travel far from their families, and all that is familiar to them, in hopes of being able to provide a better life for their loved ones. The theme is familiar, and unfortunately, the response of the community is as well. As US history repeats itself, the immigrant laborers are discriminated against by individuals and institutions as well. The workers are stereotyped as being lazy criminals and are threatened with deportation if they protest injustices such as the failure to get paid for services rendered.

The film states that the need for unskilled labor in Austin is great, yet community members will fervently protest against what has helped to make our thriving city what it is. This intense reaction, perhaps stemming from fear of those that seem "different" or ignorance about other cultures, prohibits people from appreciating the elements of culture that the laborers bring, and the services that they provide to the community. Members of the Austin community should focus on what we have in common with our diverse residents, instead of our perceived differences. Sometimes what we perceive as a difference is the result of stereotyping about these groups, as illustrated in the film, and not actually reflective of the group members. Thank you for allowing us to get to know Ramon, Juan, and the other First Workers on a personal level, perhaps a helpful step toward dispelling stereotypes and helping immigrant workers succeed in our community.

11/22/04
This movie in turns infuriated me and hurt my heart. Then again, so many things these days infuriate me and hurt my heart, so I don't know which battle to begin facing and fighting. But this battle has already begun and I was glad to see it on film.

The thing is, in elementary or even middle schools, we are not taught about immigration, poverty, social justice, or racism. I remember learning in elementary school that Mexico was a polluted country and somewhere along the line, someone told me it's poorer than the US or Canada. And that was it. Not till college did I learn that people who are poorer than me are just like me, and it is not their fault, and it does not make them less of a person. I fault my lack of education, and I fault those who have more for not caring about those who have less. I was one of those, too.

Before I moved to Texas, race to me was mainly black, or white. Then voila! I entered this land of Hispanics and -- yes it is a land of mainly Hispanics, much as we try to deny it-- and noticed that they are so segregated that you only see them in the periphery.

I was so proud that those workers showed the neighbors how successful they can be, became organized, and worked hard. One of their comments really stood out to me-- that in every culture, in EVERY country, there are people who choose to drink and do drugs or not. I think that is important to remember.

I really think that the American government needs to revamp it's ideas about immigration. I hear over and over that this country is a land of immigrants. But no one seems to really remember that when it's time to make the laws. With the exception of Native Americans-- everyone's forefathers are from another place. The only difference is, today people are trying not to assimilate to whatever mainstream culture means. (Which will happen anyway as the world gets more and more globalized.)There is nothing threatening about that-- it is something enriching us. Like one of the people says in the movie, it is logical to be frightened of that which you do not know, but no one's culture is inherintly evil! People are going to keep crossing that river no matter what-- and so its better to have an idea about how to help those who come to build this country, to help us live comfortable lives.

I think that neighborhood communities could have meetings and open houses like they did with the Day Labor Site. Affordable Health clinics and job information resources for immigrants must be readily available so they don't get into the whole mess of not being paid. They need to be informed of their legal rights, too, from the people who hire them. Most of all, they need to be treated with respect and gratitude. They work too hard not to have that.

11/22/04
Robin Windsor
Austin, TX
UT School of Social Work

Austin, as well as the nation, can help new immigrants succeed by first acknowleding the significant contributions they are making to our communities. We shouldn't look to our governmental policies for definitions of who is "legal", but who actually lives and works in our communities, and what their needs are. Like Ramon and Juan, many immigrants coming to the U.S. have few other options, forced to leave loved ones behind out of financial desperation. It seems that borders become irrelevant when there is a "16 to 1" difference in standard of living between the US and Mexico. Thank you for making such an educational and relevant film!

11/22/04
Sarah McCafferty
Austin, Texas
UT School of Social Work

I really enjoyed this film and thought it was very relevant-especially for those living in Texas and other border states. Something that stuck out to me was when someone said "People don't make a point to recognize who made this country." How profound! It is often that the dominant groups within this society recognize this. I also thought it was interesting the use of the term "they" when the neighborhood council was discussing the issue of the day labor center moving into their community. It was a very other-ist mentality and one that is often used when discussing a marginalized group. Lastly, the statistics about Austin being the second best city to live in were very humorous to me. Those statistics are really speaking to one group-well off, white folks. They are not assessing that in terms of lower-class peoples, LGBTQ peoples, people of color, etc.

Response to some of the "talk back questions":

Facilitating understanding within a community about the issues that are raised for immigrants is extremely important. Some ways that this can be done is through language training (for both the dominant and non-dominant language groups), creating a resource center for recent immigrants, and community building through block parties, neighborhood clean-ups, and bringing in coalition-building speakers with interpreters.

Immigrants can help establish themselves by getting to know their neighbors and neighborhood, participating in community activities, and not being afraid to step outside of their community (if they are a part of an immigrant community).

Immigrants face several obstacles in trying to be successful in the United States. Amongst those, some of the largest are combating discrimination and racism, poverty and class experiences, finding work, gaining respect, and figuring out whether to assimilate into the US culture or accommodate.

11/22/04
Siler Murphree
Austin, TX
In watching the video Los Trabajadores, I was truly shocked about what many migrant workers in America go through. There are so many misconceptions regarding migrant workers in the United States and there are so many that believe those stereotypes.

When I sat down to watch this video, I was surprised to learn that this video was about the problems of migrant workers here in central Texas, where I am living. In many ways "Austinites" seem to pride themselves on being examples of educated, liberal, and caring citizens. But, in watching this video I found myself being appalled at the reaction that many had to these men, men who are looking to do nothing more than support their families.

I thought that the video was a great, nonthreatening way to show the stories and lives of how these workers have come together to claim what they simply deserve, a living wage and respect. I was moved by the personal stories that were shared by Ramon and his family. He was doing for his family what any American would do for his or her family, to protect and provide.

I believe that the change in conceptions regarding migrant workers and for any other oppressed population for that matter, has to begin with the individual. It is too often that I hear statements which perpetuate the stereotypes that migrant workers are lazy and deviant. We must start with confronting injustice and discrimination when we hear it, see it, or experience it. I will take this responsibility and I hope others, who are equally moved after seeing this video, will do so too.

11/22/04
Austin, TX
I was appalled and discouraged to hear such stereotypical and discriminative comments made throughout this film. It is unfortunate that many members of our dominating society view immigrants merely as "laborers" and as people they don't want "near their children," because those opinions and prejudices help shape and influence an immigrant's chance of success in the United States. Immigrating "Hispanics" can show willingness to work extremely hard, and many times for little to nothing wages, but until society embraces them and allows them to establish their lives in the United States, they will continue to struggle with oppression. I think that the media, with films such as "Los Trabajadores," is incredibly important for successful immigration as well as community acceptance towards integration because it expands the community's views and knowledge about immigrants traveling to America for more opportunity and a better life. I believe that ongoing communication between the immigrants and the American society will enhance their relationships and promote their integration (into the workplace and into better neighborhoods).

The U.S. government has a responsibility to treat all of its workers with fairness and equality. Although immigrants are often times illegal, they deserve to be treated and compensated for the work they produce and provide. Once again, the government often allows its media to portray "Hispanics" and other immigrants as people who are expendable and undeserving of American jobs and financial opportunity. While U.S. governmental leaders are able to improve immigration immediately through altered laws and policies, the communities and social attitudes have the ability to eliminate discrimination and oppression, while welcoming equality and integration.

Immigrants have to face a major obstacle of domination and power within the United States. The top of America's social ladder heralds the color white, while the bottom ignores the many colors of immigration. While oppression and discrimination are poisonous and cancerous truths of our American society, immigrants have continued to work at overcoming those challenges. Social views and community attitudes can only help to improve immigration and opportunity, and I believe that through the media and its continuous influences, immigrants may one day prevail.

11/17/04
Paola Soto, Isabelle de Ghellinck, Roberto Valdés, Federico Ruiz and Galahand Orduóa
Irapuato, Guanajuato, México
We consider it unfair to deny immigrants the right to look for a better life. They are leaving their homes, their belongings and even their families to look for job opportunities. No really for better work conditions, but, yes for a higher wage to cover their necessities.

We were shocked to discover the situation for our fellow citizens (relatives, friends, neighbors, etc.) in the US. We thought the opportunity they had to get a job on the other side was like a blessing for everyone. But we realized after watching the documentary that their life there is emotionally exhausting.

We are concerned for our compatriots, considering the serious moves they have to take in leaving. But it doesn't get better after crossing the river, because they have to face many difficult circumstances and rejection by many people. How would you feel if you openly received insults on the street?, if you had to agree to exploitative labour conditions because of the urgent need for money?

You can't deny that many illegal immigrants are doing their best to contribute to American society by performing the toughest jobs, getting in return miserable wages, and even more, receiving constant humiliation and aggressions because of their illegal status, without being able to defend themselves.

We think many Americans don't realize the human side of the situation. Let us try to put ourselves in the place of a day laborer: it is harsh to face each day the uncertainty of getting a temporary job to gain the necessary money to survive; you can't be with your loved ones; you miss your children's special moments; you miss your customs, culture and values; you lose your identity as a citizen of a country, and even worse, you become a human tool!

As we see things from Mexico, we understand that this situation won't change at least in the short term. Thus, the only thing we are hoping for right now is that Americans acknowledge both sides of the situation, and respect the immigrants' human dignity. As members of a global community we should no longer remain indifferent or insensitive to the situation.

11/17/04
Luis Martín, Oswaldo, Mónica y Ana
Irapuato, Guanajuato, México
As we watched the documentary, our perspectives about the Mexican immigrant situation changed because we didn't know they were treated so badly.

The strength, power, wealth, and success of the United States is unparalleled in human history--specifically because of its success in opening its society to newcomers.

The uncomfortable truth is there are a great number of jobs in the U.S. economy that people in their country are unwilling to do at the price offered. Immigrants are available to do these activities, so their work has infinitely enriched the country.

We understand that Americans fell invaded and threatened by foreign people, but finally they also are people who are looking for and opportunity to survive. They are suffering and experiencing many difficulties only to send a few dollars to their families.

They don't deserve to be treated like criminals or terrorists and less to be the object of aggression of people who don't understand the situation that they are living. We all are humans!!!!

It isn't fair that people continue to be treated so badly. We thought we lived in a more open minded world that supposedly understands the human situation.

11/17/04
Michael
Austin, TX
I was struck by the comment of one of those who protested the relocation of the day-labor pickup site in Austin. It wasn't the hateful cry "We don't want laborers near our children," but rather the attempt to deny racism and to assert that the "real issue" was that they were "undocumented" workers. "Undocumented" was nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to indicate a class of people and a race of people. Indeed, it would seem that the word "Hispanic" has become virtually synonymous with "undocumented" or "illegal" immigrant/immigration. This is, in my view, in no small part attributable to the way the word is used by the media and even to how some so-called advocates publicize their support of the Hispanic community.

The marked majority of the portrayals of Hispanics on mainstream TV are, according to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, related to the act and image of immigrating. American network television tends to emphasize the border as a defining metaphor for Hispanics, especially Mexican Americans. Images of Mexican immigrants trying to elude the Border Patrol in an effort to cross the border are typical, and have contributed to the formation of an unfortunate stereotype. Even with respect to images of Hispanics in the workplace, it seems that they either work in tobacco fields or sling tacos to the festive sound and sentimental lyrics of mariachi music--all the while living here illegally. Los Trabajadores, by contrast to the totalizing impulse of media, is a strikingly fresh look at the labor that is actually performed so that ever more luxury condominiums can be built, reminders of the other crucial issue here, in addition to race--class. The "music" of men working with hammers and pickaxes is the right accompaniment, and Courtney understands this so well. The greatest challenge facing 85 percent of the Hispanic community in the United States is not immigration, rather it is a combination of threats such as unsafe working conditions, poverty, inadequate medical care, lack of access to education, and nonexistent legal protection.

What really makes this a remarkable film for me is the story of Ramon. When asked about how he felt about seeing his family again, he replied, "I feel like my heart is leaving my body." A poetic sentiment that intensely human needs no comment. What this film did was humanize and subjectivize workers who otherwise would all too likely have been labeled, homogenized, and thus dehumanized. Their sense of themselves, their agency and identities is a powerful reminder of what stereotyping and racism means to erase, but never will as long as documentaries like this exist. I think of another documentary of which I had the privilege seeing the world premier in Lexington, KY, another PBS film, Beyond the Border.

11/17/04
Jonelle Sullivan
UT-Austin -School of Social Work -Grad Student
I must admit that I drive by the Day Laborer Site at least 3 times a week and never knew what it was. This film gave a first hand account of how being a day laborer affects the workers lives. I saw men forced to leave their families and countries to find work, families forced to live without their fathers and husbands, and most upsetting was watching grown men stand in a line and wait to be picked due to how they looked, much like animals at a pet store.

I think that it will be up to the communities to help these immigrants succeed. As the movie showed; even though they were able to organize themselves, set strict rules, and motivate one another they were still taken advantage of until the dominant group stepped in and offered help. Many of the laborers would continue to get paid with phony checks or not paid at all if it wasn't for the white politicians/police officers who agreed to go after these employers regardless of the legal status of the day laborers.

I think the biggest obstacle new immigrants face in the US is the ignorance that leads to fear among the dominant group. The movie showed one woman who argued that her opposition to the site wasn't an NIMBY issue because she didn't want the site to exist at all- she assumed that crime would increase in the neighborhood. Many Americans are told that immigrants are taking "our" jobs and committing crimes against "our" people- unfortunately the majority just believe these statements without doing any research on them- if they did they would see that statistics do not back up such claims.

11/16/04
Yahaira Chico, Saray Ambriz, Santiago Rocha, Lissette Sitarz, Genevieve Iza
Irapuato, Guanajuato, México
We are Mexican students and our feelings about the immigrant problem in US are: anger, comprehension, pride and worry. We understand the immigrants' situation because we know what is going on in our country and the economic situation we suffer. We felt anger because there are many people in America that are a bit ignorant; therefore they don't about the people who go to the US to work. We permit us to call them our people but first of all they are human beings that are trying to give their families the best they can by working far away from them and living in difficult situations. Here in Mexico things are hard too for those families. Sometimes the children don't know their fathers and there are entire communities without men creating even more social problems.

We understand US citizens because they feel invaded, but they should not forget that they were basically a Country formed by immigrants. If they say immigrants don't pay taxes, well they don't but also they get paid less, don't they? What we can't stand is that the people say they are criminals. A few may be, but also can be the American neighbor or any citizen. There are no guarantees and here in Mexico there are bad and good people as there are in the US. But most of the immigrants that go to that country are good people looking for a job and a better life for their families.

We also feel pride for our people in giving us a lesson of love. They are fighting everyday against racism, exploitation, discrimination and they never give up because of the love for their families. In our country we see disintegrating families, people who sacrifice their union in order to have something to eat. So we, as Mexicans, exhort you (US. people) to not be scared of what you don't know and to take a chance to know our people.

People who are against the Mexicans immigrants want solutions. However it seems the solution we think they are proposing is for those immigrants to disappear like in the movie "A Day Without Mexicans" and that is certainly not going to happen. We hope we could work together to get a real solution, and that the doors of our Country will always be opened to receive them as HUMAN BEINGS.

11/16/04
Austin, TX
I thought this film was very moving and eye opening about the immigrants that have such an impact on Austin. I have a new found respect for these determined me. They represent such an honorable since of family and self sacrifice. Throughout the entire film they exhibited a since of honor even during the ignorant protests and neighborhood slander. I was taken aback by the statements and accusitions that if the day labor camp was moved to the neighborhood, more crime would automatically follow. There was also a statement that the protests were not about race...well, what was it about then?

11/16/04
Karina Callejas, Rocio Vaca, Liliana Chávez, Dayna Lepe
Irapuato, Guanajuato, México
This film showed us how Latin-American people are seen by "the powerful" people of the U.S.A. They are seen as criminals, garbage, problems, as the worst thing that could happen to the U.S.A.

But who build their houses? Who does the work they are unwilling to do? What would happen if immigrants didn't work for them? Would american nationals do that hard work?

Why don't those racist people see that immigrants are an invisible force? They are small but an important piece to the development of a country that isn't even theirs! They are working for people that blame and don't respect them.

American people don't see the pain they are causing. The only thing the immigrants want is to work to have a better quality of life for their families.

11/16/04
Vanessa Medina
Austin, TX
As a first generation Mexican-American and daughter of a former day labor, Los Trabajadores had a deep emotional impact on me. I felt as if Ramon was my father. The very words he said about life, liberty, and family are the words and advice that have been passed down to me by my father. Like Ramon's daughters, I live only to make my father proud and validate the sacrifices he has made for our family.

Currently I am a first year graduate student at UT Austin's School of Social Work and was assigned to view this film for my social justice class. I had no idea that a class film would weigh as heavy as this film has on me.

The biggest obstacle facing immigrants today is the obvious lack of respect. It is undeniable that day laborers do indeed do the work that many would never dream of doing...they are BUILDING America. These workers have raised the US from the ground to the sky. People need to open their eyes and ask, "what would happen if their hard working hands weren't around to bring your country to life."

11/16/04
jordan price
austin, tx.
communities need to set day labor camps that are marketed to the public as organizations of hard working people, which is exactly what they are. furthermore, the workers should be able to accumulate a record of work performed in an official document so their hard work is not unrecognized. This may help to partially alleviate the privilege that citizen laborers receive through the system in place.

not being an immigrant, it is tough to grasp their plight, but i have visited west Texas bordertowns where the Rio Grande does not mean a thing... everyone works together from both countries in a multicultural system. it works great there. it is all perception, people understand only what they have experienced and suburban Austinites are somewhat isolated from interacting with other cultures. Once people are introduced to similarities and wonderful differences between locals and migrants, they usually relax their protests.

the most pressing obstacles facing immigrants in the US are the legalization process (structuralized discrimination), respect within new communities (cultural discrimination), and formal recognition of work.

11/16/04
Kate Quirin
Austin, TX
One of the issues that affected day laborers' success was their relationship with residential neighbors of the day labor sites. The documentary showed the process of day laborers organizing, creating rules and standards, seeking outside aid and advocates, and rallying for support in their efforts to prove themselves as honest workers. In order to establish themselves as good neighbors in their communities, the new immigrants must join forces with present union-like groups and continue to communicate with longtime residents regarding their good intentions of seeking honest work and providing for their families. Open communication can help both sides find common ground in their desire to support their families and make a decent living.

Immigrants working in the U.S. should receive the same rights that legal resident workers do. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) should protect immigrant workers, especially because they are more likely to work in dangerous worksite conditions. The construction companies who hire day laborers need to be held more accountable as well. If the workers have an illegal status, many do not take legal action against the injustices they endure for fear of retaliation/deportation.

Worker rights and safety is an issue in many states in addition to Texas, including California and New York. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 67 percent of all workers who died on the job last year in New York City were immigrants. Immigration advocates would say that the high danger and deaths occurring on construction sites is a manifestation of the ambivalence of Americans toward immigrant workers.

Collaboration needs to occur between U.S. and Mexican policymakers. Mexico's President, Vicente Fox, has pushed for a program to legalize millions of Mexicans living in the U.S. illegally. However, immigration advocates have to defend their cause against the many Americans who take the stance of Pat Buchanan, who in 2001 told CNN: "What is taking place is the policy of the Mexican government to dump its poor and its unemployed upon the U.S." In the United States, he said, immigrants "not only get jobs, but American taxpayers educate their children, provide welfare, provide Medicaid, and all the benefits of that, [and] they send their money back to Mexico." http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/07/16/bush.mexico/index.html

Unfortunately, the biggest obstacles facing immigrants trying to succeed in this country stem from racism that is deeply embedded in individuals, communities, policies, and societal institutions. As noted in the documentary, we should recognize the great service day laborers do in physically building this country, and look at the costs and benefits both parties experience in this expansion.

11/16/04
Austin Texas
In the Los Trabajadores video themes of racism and discrimination were evident, hidden under the observable struggle of immigrants to find day work. In the video I observed a residential area rejecting a day labor site for no grounds other than "they [immigrants] drink, cause crime, and are not mentally healthy." All of which are direct prejudices.

I see discrimination and prejudice as the major obstacles immigrants face when searching for work in the U.S. It is not a matter of what immigrants can do to be "good neighbors" but a question of what neighborhoods can do to keep from discriminating harmless individuals.

In my Social Justice class at The University of Texas, issues of racial inequality are raised and can be directly applied to this video. From my classroom experience, I can pointedly see these underlying themes surface, and by responding to the video I can help in the community's awareness.

These immigrants are looking for nothing more than the opportunity for work, and their chance at the "American Dream." Who are we to oppose an organization that will provide them with this opportunity? Also, we need be reminded that these workers are building our CITIES! Without them, our cities would be geographically delayed. Every time we step in a "luxury apartment", shopping center, grocery store, or city building we are possibly stepping in a building that was constructed by day laborers. Now, why are we trying to limit thier space, or send them back to host countries? It does not make sense to me.

11/16/04
Krista Scott
Austin, Texas School of Social Work
Living in Austin is a lot like living in my home city of Phoenix, Arizona--both cities are growing at an unbelievable rate and both are growing "on the backs of immigrant labor." What I found most interesting was not the uproar from community members at the prospect of having a day labor site put in their neighborhood; it was not the general fear of deportation; it was not the selflessness of the men who come and work in the United States. Rather, I was happy to see that union-type organizing still has a place in the United States. Labor unions have saved American workers from deplorable conditions in the past, and it was interesting to see a modern-day unionizing effort that was by the people and for the people. Caesar Chavez would be quite proud. I think that both immigrants and communities can begin to understand the importance of organizing; should the workers and the community members have come together to find a mutually acceptable way to formalize the process (as the workers did later), both the workers and the community could feel connected to the facility in a positive way.

The men who work as day laborers put to rest stereotypes of the drunk, lazy Mexican man; we saw that come up with the man who was looking for labor and wanted to make sure that he didn't get any "red eyes." One topic that is not explicitly addressed is the distinctions between class and nationality. There was a general fear that if you have a day site in a neighborhood, it will attract crime. No one wanted to say that they were afraid of the workers yet no one could conclude that day laborers would associate with or interact with homeless people. Further more, this also implies that all poor people are inclined to commit violent acts. I think that overcoming this perception is a great obstacle to immigrants--as long as they are poor when they arrive in this country, they are suspected of doing harm. Until they are seen without this stigma, it will be an uphill battle.

11/16/04
Kelley Turner
Austin, TX University of Texas
I found the documentary to be deeply moving. Having grown up in Texas, I have grown quite accustomed to seeing illegal workers at various construction sites around the state. The documentary has allowed me the opportunity to look through their eyes. All they want to do is to provide for their family, much like anyone else in the United States. People were so resistant to the workers in their neighborhood, but yet these are the people that are helping to build "their" houses and "their" roads. What would happen if the illegal immigrants were to go back to their own countries? Who would be complaining then?

9/24/04
Courtney FitzGerald
Austin, TX
I found myself quite moved by the plight of immigrant laborers as presented in Los Trabajadores. The film did an outstanding job revealing the humanity of individuals who leave behind home, country, and family to provide a better life for the ones they love. They struggle against cultural and language barriers, fear of deportation and what might happen to their families if they are not able to earn money, and occasionally blatant racism. Indeed, I feel my own eyes have been opened to realities I might not have considered otherwise. Thank you for airing such a thought-provoking program.

9/20/04
Austin, TX
I crack a smile when I think about the boarders the United States has put up in a country built by immigrants. I begin to laugh when I consider how much money our country makes by using other countries through globalization. I laugh out load when we, US citizens, get angry at immigrants who try to "dip their hands" in "our" wealth. What did we do in a past life that was so great it entitled us to be birthed in one of the wealthiest countries in the world? It is unfortunate that our concern for human beings, many times, does not extend beyond our boarders. It is also unfortunate that we tend to look for fault in those in need to rid ourselves of the guilt that accompanies turning our heads.

Instead of listening to the stereotypes, we as individuals and members of communities would benefit by looking at the strengths of immigrant communities (the commitment to family that the US severely lacks, patience with English speakers learning/using Spanish that mono-lingual English speakers tend to lack, a strong work ethic missing in the US today, a rich culture, et cetera) and by questioning stereotypes through observation and interaction. Instead of feeding into stereotypes, we could work with immigrant communities to help dispel such stereotypes. Such action might help immigrants to succeed. However, such an idea is somewhat idealistic/unrealistic.

In response to comments posted, we need to ask ourselves whether day labor sites are causing our neighborhoods to decline or whether day labor sites are being placed in neighborhoods already beginning to decline; we need to ask ourselves if day laborers, afraid of being deported, are really causing the crime in our neighborhoods; we need to ask ourselves why day laborers might make the comments they do (are such comments part of their culture) and, perhaps, treat immigrants as people who could be talked with about how we feel regarding such comments to create a mutual understanding; we need to ask ourselves if US citizens would really farm fields in 100 degree weather (what really is causing a decline in work ethic in our country).

The documentary, "Los Trabajores," is very moving in its attempts at dispelling our stereotypes regarding immigrant day laborers. However, the documentary very likely either preaches to the choir or is viewed by intelligent people who strongly believe in their reasons that they feel address why day laborers should not be supported within or neighborhoods and by our country.

9/20/04
Sarah Faehnle
Austin, Texas
This film demonstrated to me once again how closely intertwined ignorance, fear, and prejudice are. None of us can know what these day laborers, for example, are like unless we actually talk with them, and hear their voices, as the film allowed us to do.

Language is a significant factor in emphasizing the unknown about groups of people, it seems. I spent a little time in a country whose language I did not speak, and there I felt a constant urge to prove my intelligence and competence, because without language there is little way to demonstrate these things. I think about what it must be like for people who are immediately confronted with systemic and personal discrimination, trying to assert their dignity and humanity without speaking the dominant language.

It seems to all go back to our stories. Our stories connect us, I think; they must be told in order for us to stop fearing and judging one another.

9/20/04
Camille Jones
Austin, TX
This film really changed my thoughts on illegal immigrants working in the US. I think previously I had the impression that most people were just feeding off of America's economy. This films showed me that they are contributing to it while trying to make a living for their family. An honorable ambition.

I think the steps these men took to establish a reputiable organization were necessary in their quest to be percieved as "good" neighbors. People are afraid of chaos and the unkown and the day labor organization helped control that fear.

I think the US has the responsibility to ensure the basic rights of all people participating in society. The host country should help their citizends cross legally if they are doing so in a respectful nature. This would help illegal immigration lower and ensure good intentions of those who do immigrate.

9/20/04
Meredith Freimer
Austin, TX
The question of "Who is building this city?" is posed by an immigrant worker in this film and the answer is very interesting; the individuals responsible are a population that has been largely unrecognized for their contribution to the growth and development in Austin. One inspiring aspect of their lives is the dedication, caring and respect demonstrated by these immigrants; this is evidenced by the long, hard hours worked, sometimes for no pay, and their commitment to each other and to the neighborhood where the First Workers Incorporated site was situated. A striking contradiction highlighted in the film is that so many skilled labor positions are available in Austin, and are needed to continue the growth, and yet many individuals are unwilling to have an immigrant population in their community. Members of a community that are exhibiting respectful behavior and are contributing to its advancement should not be denied the same rights as other members of that community. No one can be proud of a developing city that ignores the very people that are responsible for a large portion of the work it takes to make these changes possible.

9/20/04
Austin TX
1. I think that communities need to understand that new immigrants are people too and without them, we wouldn't get much of the work done that we need to get done. They need to have more of an open mind, and be more empathetic to the situation of the workers. It cannot be easy living in a different county than your family and sending most of the money that you make back to them. I think that is very honorable. I think immigrants can help their situation out as well. Something as simple as just getting to know their neighbors and doing their part in their neighborhood to keep it a nice place to live would show the community that they are willing to put forth an effort to live here and that they consider it their home.

2. It seems as though the US government could help make sure that the workers get paid for the work that they do. It broke my heart to see on the video that so many bosses did not pay their workers their money for the hard work that they did. It also seems as though the Mexican government could help the immigrant hopefuls to get the appropriate paperwork in and assist them in becoming legal to work in the US.

3. I think the biggest obstacle for immigrants is the prejudice that they experience on a daily basis. Many people think that just because they are looking for a job and that they usually live in run down parts of the city that they are automatically criminals. This is obviously not true. I wish that people would open their minds a bit more to the struggles that immigrants go through.

9/20/04
Jenna Foppiani
Austin, TX
I am recently new to Austin and recently viewed this documentary. I felt extremely naive that this was occurring in my city and I was not aware. I guess maybe I thought it happened in California or southern Texas, maybe I didn't even think about this happening at all. Your documentary helped me realize the severity of the issue and the proximity, my own back yard. Thank you for creating this documentary and allowing my eyes to be opened to the injustices that were happening. It helped me grasp the sense of culture and pride that these men share in their hard times solely for their families. How courageous they are.

9/20/04
Paige Peschong
Austin, Texas
First of all, I just wanted to state that this film made me fully aware of the issue of immigration in the United States. I believe that this film truly did some justice for those who have no voice in this society. I never really realized and understood everything that immigrants go through just to get some work to provide for their family. I also did not realize that thousands of people crossed our borders just to earn money because they cannot at home. Thank you for bringing this to light for me and have me understand their trials and tribulations.

Secondly, I believe that one of the biggest obstacles that the immigrants face is the stigma and prejudice from Americans. Many Americans tend to believe that immigrants are just "lazy" and "ride the system." This film portrayed a different story; it showed that there are really hard working men who are just trying to earn money for their families. It also shows that these men cannot ride any system at all considering that once they are caught, they are returned to their home. I think that if these stigmas are removed, then people will treat the immigrants better and they will be able to succeed.

9/20/04
Candice Jones
Austin, TX
I thought that it was a wonderful video, I see these men and families work everyday, I have seen the places they go early each morning in the hopes of getting a job that will provide them with money for their survival and the survival of their family, and I am excited that others get to see this as well. I thought that it was a great idea to show the organization of the men, show that they are smart and intelligent just like everyone else. They view this as there livelyhood and do not want to be taken advantage of just like the rest of us. I loved the unity of this group of men, but it hurt to see how the groups of white Austinites viewed them as "the other" and made it seem as if they were all the same and not people struggling to survive just like them. The idea that one person doing the wrong thing can make this entire group of Mexican men look bad and ruin their chances is terrible, because if one white person does something it is not looked at as if the group did wrong but that single white person, it is this idea that helps to keep these groups of men united because they are attacked as a team and must fight back as a team. I am grateful for this exposure and the light that it sheds on many problems within our society.

9/20/04
Kate Ellis
Austin, Texas
What an amazing documentary! As a new member of the Austin community, the film "Los Trabajadores" was an extremely insightful documentary that presents the challenges that undocumented workers must face everyday. It is interesting how the neighbors and protesters forgot their own immigrant roots and the history from which this country was founded when they passed judgment on the undocumented workers. I was also disturbed by the "us verses them" mentality which exists in a city that often takes pride on being progressive. Not only does this film put a human face to the workers but it also examines how the entire family structure is affected.

9/14/04
Shelli Edge
Austin, Texas
I was so moved by the film. I think it accurately addresses a side of Mexican-American life that few people think about. So many people forget how hard these individuals work in our societ, and most of them are just trying to ensure the survival of themselves and their families. I think the film also did an excellent job of discussing how much our society relies on the jobs these men perform. I love the concept that America isn't building our cities. We all talk about how much Austin is growing without even thinking about who deserves the credit for building it! I do think that governments play a role in helping these individuals. While they may not be citizens, the are people who unique and precious in their own right and deserve as much as help as the government can give them. We are not in a place to decide who "deserves" assistance but to help whomever needs it most. I also think that these individuals contribute to society in crucial ways and therefore deserve many if not all of society's benefits.

9/14/04
Shannon Johnson
Austin, TX
I was surprised at how organized the workers were. I have seen groups of immigrants such as these in San Diego but none were this organized, they simply stood on the edge of the street and went with the first person that stopped.

I was also surprised that everyone knew that this group existed but that there were no legal actions taken. I think that the struggles these people went through were heartbreaking but I do not agree with illegal immigration or the idea that there would be nobody to perform these jobs if illegal immigrants were not here. it is true that many of these jobs are undesireable to many people, but there are many others who simply want any job in order to survive. The film also mentioned that "los trabajadores" are making far less than they should be on such dangerous jobs. I think that this could be because they are willing to take this small ammount while many U.S. citizens or legal immigrants are not. Perhaps there are those out there that are being cheated out of jobs because they are not willing to work for such a small sum of money. As long as there are people out there that will, this problem will never be remedied.

9/10/04
Niki Smith
Austin, TX
One thing our communitites can do to help these individuals is to not look at them as we have in the past. Society needs to understand that they are men who are working long strenuous hours for a wage that is unworthy. And what many don't realize is that we have many of them to thank for the wonderful buildings in Austin's downtown and beautiful houses that fill the Northwest Hills.

The video really opened my eyes to their lifestyle and their goals of improving the lives of their family back home. They banded together as workers to develop a system to govern themselves and keep the daily routine running smoothly. I thought that was very intelligent and so far it has worked. I also believe that there are many others who would change their minds if they watched this video. There are still issues of those who come to the US illegally for the wrong reasons but I don't believe that we should punish those who come for the right reasons.

9/7/04
Shelley Imholte
Austin, Texas
This brief introduction to the life of immigrants who come to our nation, our communities, stirred my soul. It appears that there is a grave lack of empathy for those who appear "less fortunate" than ourselves. The motivation that brings others to our way of life ranges from an attempt to meet even the most basic human need, survival, to building and creating a better way of life for themselves and their families. The desire to achieve and accomplish more for those we love and support is no stranger to the American way. Yet, here in a country that prides itself on freedom of choice for each individual is the exhibition of blatant prejudice to helping the fellow man. This attitude extends beyond the day laborers of Austin, Texas. As a society we must begin to understand and respect the way of life for others. It is vital that each of us be a part of the multitude of solutions to many problems instead of remaining part of the problem. Sure, many of us are not experiencing what those living in the community where the move of the day laborers occurred but then again we are not experiencing what these workers experience either. In this way we remain ignorant. We offer little contribution to our bigger community by isolating ourselves from the issue or issues. Through learning, experiencing, supporting, and encouraging those who are different from us we empower our own way of life.

9/7/04
Jodie Evans
Austin, TX
After watching this film today in a Social Work class, I had an "awakening" to what these day laborers are going through. I see these men in parking lots in my community and have never been intolerant of them being here trying to find work. They are just trying to make a living for their family and I feel that that is every person's god given right to have the opportunity to do that. Why don't we set up communities along the border to get these immigrants jobs in the US vs. building the plants in Mexico and having the Mexican govt. have control? I don't think that the US companies want to spend the money on the US side, should we offer an incentive to do so? What about having a mentor program where some of these immigrants are matched up with US construction workers, etc.(implemented by organizations that are using them as day laborers)i.e. helping to learn English and provide information to help them get their citizenships? Putting a face to an issue brings everything into reality.

8/27/04
Austin, TX
I read many of the responses and share in some of comments myself. However, my question to all is would you want a day labor site in your community? Not all but ruin it for others by their conduct. I feel everyone has rights. You can not or should overrun one group of people's rights for another. In my neighborhood our school are subjected to unnecessary comments made by of the day labors standing of the sidewalk or close by. There is day labor site just a 1 1/2 mile down the street. This neighborhood is oppressed with drugs and other crimes and is trying to revitilize itself the building of new homes. The street the labors conjugate in the main street into the neighborhood. If someone notice this they may not consider wanting to purchase a home in our neighborhood.

It is fine for other to say what should be allowed in other neighborhoods. Again, would you want your children subjected to this and would you want this in your neighborhood?

5/6/03
Terry Johnson
Your presentation of the Hispanic difficulties and their rich heritage and culture was moving. But I have another economic point of view. Yes, America wants to help people everywhere, but I feel that this is resulting in the fall of our economic structure. America has always been famous for elevating themselves and throwing their assets around. We don't want anyone to see our poor...we hide them and try to subsidize them. By not making Americans work at these low paying jobs, we cheat ourselves of developing work ethic. We have brought the majority of our citizens to a level so high, we cannot provide enough jobs for us all. We have agencies that we pay for, helping another country move up our economic ladder. We have lost 500,000 jobs in 3 months. How can we delude ourselves into believing that this is okay. My heart breaks for the Hispanics, but it also for breaks for myself, my friends, neighbors, leaders, businesspeople, janitors, office clerks, construction workers.....that are daily going to social services for the first time....because we are giving away our means. America needs to return to what made us strong. Pride in our work, not our title, and not our material wealth...and we can do it, if we stop and think, and make more rational choices.

4/8/03
I was very touched by the documentary Los Trabajadores and would like to commend Ms. Courtney for a job well done. I live in a community that until recently has not had much exposure, or sought not to expose, the presence of undocumented immigrants. Putting a human face on the immigration "problem" is only the first step in creating meaningful public policy. The United States and Mexico have a responsibility to undertake the enormous task of immigration reform. Until America is ready to accept Mexico as an equal partner, this country will continue to exploit desperate peoples whose entire goal is to work hard to share a part of the American Dream. With so much ignorance, it is no wonder why putting up reinforced borders and hiring more patrol agents have been the only idea the American government seems to be able to invent.

4/7/03
Jordan Coleman
St. Louis, MO
Thank you for creating such an excellent representation of undocumented immigrants. I currently direct a Spanish language crisis hotline in St. Louis. I'm going to order a copy of the film for training purposes. The case in Austin is occuring all over the United States in various forms. Thanks for showing it through the immigrant's perspective.

4/1/03
ARANCIBIA CRISTIAN
TORRANCE CA
GREAT FILM, AWESOME JOB REFLECTING THE PAIN OF THE FAMILIES LEFT BEHIND ,AND THE HARDSHIP OF EVERY DAY LIFE FOR THOSE NOT LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE BEEN BORN HERE IN THE U.S

3/27/03
Marlene
Dallas, Tx
Immigrants in the U.S. face many obstacles. They come here in search of jobs to support their families and many times all they find is more hardship. Some are lucky because they already know people who will gladly offer them jobs, whether it be friends or family, but they fare well or at least better than those who don't know anyone. These unfortunate people come across many who are unwilling to help them.Those who can't find jobs must often return home to look at the suffering faces of their families. Although just getting a job is hard, the most difficult thing is probably getting here. The immigrants that come here illegaly often agree to pay ridiculous amounts of money to "coyotes". Some of these "coyotes" can be devious. Many a time immigrants have been killed or left in the desert to find their own way by the men who are supposed to help them. They pay the money up front so they are cheated and left without much.Although I know that trying to come into the country illegaly is highly discouraged I feel that more action must be taken to help immigrants because after all, illegal or not they do contribute to our country in many ways and most often take jobs that we benefit from.

3/27/03
Houston, Texas
I was in Austin during the time covered by the film and remember the huge controversy surrounding the move of the day labor site from the showcase downtown area to a residential neighborhood several miles from downtown. There was precious little news coverage from the standpoint of the men that were the focus of the film: if not for the move of the day labor site, they would have remained, despite their ubiquity in construction and lawn service, the invisible ones. The same is true here in Houston.

This film was important for putting a human face on these invisible people. Yes, there are issues of illegality surrounding their presence in the U.S., but the film showed, especially with Ramón, that these workers would much rather be with their families in Mexico (or Central America) than working unskilled labor in a country that doesn't want them. Yet they fill the jobs that Americans will not do, and so our economy is intricately intertwined with the presence of these workers.

I learned about the film when I heard Ms. Courtney talk about it the day before it screened on a local radio program, "Nuestra Palabra" on KPFT. I hope that she will appear on the show again to discuss the reaction to the film, and to further discuss the film's impact as a teaching and organizing tool. It was well-done and sensitive without being sentimental, and I look forward to seeing more of her work.

3/27/03
Larry Liebman
Dallas, Texas
What a wonderful film, capturing, among other things, the emotions and many hardships of being a immigrant trabajadore here in Texas. While being treated at best as second class citizens (and usually worse....), and at the same time trying to retain their pride and dignity, they still attempt, each day, to get work. It is sad that so many Americans do not understand what this moving and provocative film is about. I enjoyed the film, thought it was extremely well done, and I wanted to say thank you for making it.

3/27/03
norma
phoenix arizona
i believe that the reason it is hard for the trabajadores to find good work or a legal status is because there is racism and greediness. those people who try to blame all of there problems on the trabjadores always do their best to make life difficult for the trabajadores. they want to use the law to their benifit, but just because it's the law, does not mean that it is moraly right. and the reason there are these kinds of laws that they always use against the trabajadores and other immigrants is because it people like them who make them. stop the greed we are all humans, children of God and we all deserve to have a chance to make an honest living and live in peace. not fighting over a piece of "bread" if you know what i mean. we all need the same things and we all have the same dreams. don't they teach us as children to share. how can we expect them to follow the same example if some grown ups can't even do that with their neighboors. be good to one another.

3/27/03
Stacie Sanchez
New York, NY
I am a native Texan and also a Mexican American. I went to college in Austin, and saw these day laborers when I was living there. I know that many of these illegal workers come to American hoping to find a better way and provide opportunities for their children that they never had. As a child of middle class parents, who worked so hard to give me opportunities in life, I was enraged at the neighbors and protesters who seemed to be more upset that the workers were unsightly than actually causing a problem. These men have basic humanitarian rights to provide for their families, and they are doing the manual labor that no one else wants to do. If there were not a demand for the cheap labor in cities, these men would not be there. In the United States, people of all ethnicities come here to start a better life for themselves and for their children. They are working, contributing, productive members of society that deserve to become citizens and be allowed the same right and liberties that I enjoy. The only difference is that I was born north of the border.




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