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Disorder at Day Laborer Sites

Guide No. 44 (2007)

by Rob T. Guerette

The Problem of Disorder at Day Laborer Sites

This guide addresses the problem of disorder at day laborer sites. It begins by describing the problem and reviewing factors that increase the risks of it. It then identifies a series of questions to help you analyze your local problem. Finally, it reviews responses to the problem and what is known about them from evaluative research and practice.

Disorder at day laborer sites is but one aspect of the larger set of problems related to both public disorder and to illegal immigration. This guide is limited to addressing the particular harms created by disorder at day laborer sites. Related problemseach of which require separate analysisnot directly addressed in this guide include:

  • exploitation of day laborers by contractors who fail to pay or pay less than the agreed-to wage,
  • victimization of day laborers by angry citizens,
  • illegal immigration and human smuggling rings,
  • associations with groups engaged in trafficking women for prostitution, and
  • links with other forms of organized crime, such as drug smuggling.

General Description of the Problem

Views related to day laborers vary considerably. Some people view them as valuable resources providing cheap labor that others will not do. Others see them as illegal immigrants and transients who take jobs, commit crimes, and cause community disorder. How communities view day laborers largely depends on how intrusive day-laboring activities become on citizens daily lives. Most communities will be ambivalent to day laborers until their presence leads to problems, some criminal and some not.[1] Community attitudes against day laborers may be rooted in anti-immigration views more generally. How the community views day laborers and illegal immigrants, whether they are critical or sympathetic, will affect how any particular community addresses problems at day laborer sites. This guide does not adopt any particular judgment about illegal immigrants rather it is intended to objectively inform you about the effectiveness and consequences of various approaches to managing problematic behavior at day laboring locations.

Day laborers are those who congregate in public places seeking manual-labor jobs such as construction, gardening, landscaping, and farming. These laborers work daily for predetermined wages. The amount of money laborers earn varies from market to market and time of year. Day laborer sites tend to be concentrated where there is a proliferation of construction, manufacturing, farming, and other industries dependent on large numbers of relatively unskilled manual laborers.

Day laborers are sometimes referred to as jornaleros or esquineros, the former meaning day worker and the latter meaning street-corner worker.

Researchers often distinguish between informal and formal day labor markets. Formal day laborers are those who work for temp agencies, contracted out on a daily or extended basis. This guide focuses on informal day laborers.

Harms Caused by Disorder at Day Laborer Sites

Potential problems associated with day laborer sites center mostly on where laborers congregate while waiting for work, and not at the workplaces themselves. The following are among the many reasons police need to be concerned with day laborer activity.

Public Disorder

  • The presence of large numbers of laborers and contractors often creates parking and traffic problems.
  • The constant congregation of laborers in the same place for many hours creates loitering problems.
  • Laborers often leave discarded bottles, food wrappers, and other litter at day laborer sites.
  • Laborers may vandalize area property or deface property with graffiti.
  • Laborers waiting all day for work may urinate in public.
  • Injuries among laborers related to swarming may occur. Swarming often occurs when there are many more laborers than the contractor needs. Injuries sometimes occur when many laborers swarm around a contractors vehicle, hoping to be selected for a job.
  • Laborers congregating on sidewalks may harass pedestrians.


  • Simple and aggravated assaults may take place at day laborer sites.
  • Laborers may be routinely robbed.[2]
  • Laborers may drink and sell or use illicit drugs in public.

Economic Concerns

  • Immigrant day laborers may make it more difficult for community residents to find work.
  • Increased contractors reliance on day laborers may undercut salary levels and employee benefits for full-time workers.

Spillover Effects

  • The presence of troublesome day laborer sites may incite citizens frustration and disdain for immigrants.
  • Disorderly day laborer sites could lead to increased fear of crime among community members.
  • Uncontrolled day laborer sites in residential areas may affect property values.
A local resident protests at a day laborer site

A local resident protests at a day laborer site.

Day Laborer and Smuggling Links

As most day laborers are illegal immigrants, most have been assisted by smugglers. Research indicates that smugglers help nine out of 10 immigrants entering the United States across the Mexican border.[3] Many immigrants use smugglers to help them find places to live in the United States, and become obligated to them if they cannot afford to pay them up front. Thus, some immigrants must work to repay smugglers for arranging their transport and housing. It is common for many immigrants to live in one house or apartment that is managed by the smuggler or someone with ties to the smuggler. These residences may be near day labor sites.

Factors Contributing to Disorder at Day Laborer Sites

Understanding the factors that contribute to your problem will help you frame your own local analysis questions, identify valid effectiveness measures, determine important intervention points, and select an appropriate set of responses for your specific problem. The literature on day laborers provides a general picture of the market for them, the conditions of day-labor work, the laborers themselves, their employers, the places where they assemble, and the link between day laborers and human smuggling.

Day Laborer Markets

Day laboring dates back to at least the medieval times, when laborers assembled in daily or weekly markets throughout Europe to be hired for farming and herding tasks. In the United States, day laboring dates back to the late 1700s, when common laborers (many of them immigrants) such as chimney sweepers, wood cutters, and cart men sought jobs daily. During the mid-1800s, shape-up sites in northeastern port cities had a system of hiring dockworkers for daily or half-day shifts.

For more on the history of organized day labor, see Larrowe (1955), Mohl (1971), Mund (1948), and Valenzuela (2003).

Todays market for day laborers exists wherever there is a need for construction and agricultural workers. The jobs include home construction and/or refurbishment, landscaping, roofing, painting, and harvesting and other farming activities. In some regions, day laborers work in factories on production lines.

For low-skilled or illiterate workers, day labor sites provide an easily accessible way to find employment. For employers, day labor sites provide easy access to a relatively large pool of workers whom they can hire when needed and release when not.

Employment Conditions

The specific conditions of day labor employment vary, but the arrangement is generally the same regardless of place or employer. Day laborers are usually paid in cash at the end of each work day. The wages paid to day laborers vary and depend on the time of year, the skill of the laborer, and the location of the day laborer site. By some estimates, the pay can reach $80 to $100 a day, exceeding federal and state minimum-wage ceilings.[4] However, in markets where there are many more laborers than jobs, wages may be bargained lower, resulting in pay that is below minimum wage. Employment generally lasts from one to three days, is unstable, and provides no benefits or worker protections.[5] Employers may sometimes mistreat day laborers, may not pay them for their work, may make them work without regular breaks, and may require them to work under hazardous conditions.

Despite the chaotic appearance of day labor sites, the daily procedures are relatively structured. Laborers usually gather at the site at around 6 a.m., waiting for prospective employers to pass by in pickup trucks or vans. As prospective employers arrive, groups of laborers crowd around the vehicles pointing to themselves and indicating their availability for work. Employers select laborers for different reasons, some of which include the laborers skills and ability to speak English. Often, employers will return to the site and look for men they have hired previously. Many laborers wait several hours before getting a job. Some laborers do not secure jobs at all and usually leave the site in the afternoon. It is common for some laborers not to secure work for several days, and periods of unemployment lasting several weeks have been reported.[6] The rate at which the laborer will be paid is often negotiated during the selection process, but is sometimes agreed to on the way to the jobsite or at the jobsite itself, once the laborer has seen the nature of the work. The employer often provides lunch.

Day Laborers

The exact number of day laborers is uncertain; however, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that approximately 260,000 wait each day on street corners for employment.[7] In Los Angeles, some 20,000 to 22,000 day laborers are estimated to seek work every day.[8] Most day laborers are male, entered the country illegally, are young, are uneducated, and either cannot speak English or have poor command of the language.[9] Because of their illegal status, they largely lack access to formal employment. Most day laborers are Hispanic, though this varies somewhat by region. For example, in Chicago one study reported that the majority of day laborers were African American.[10]

Day labor appeals to workers for many reasons. First, day laborers are paid in cash at the end of each work day. Getting paid daily is beneficial because laborers can use the money immediately to pay for food and other needs. Receiving payment in cash also eliminates the need to establish a bank account. This appeals to illegal immigrants who are wary of formal institutions and/or lack the documentation needed to establish accounts. Second, payment in cash means that day labor work is under the table and tax-free. This creates further incentives for immigrants who have worked for much less in their home countries. Finally, day laborers have the power to negotiate their wages for each job. They are free to accept or decline a job and to walk off the job site, should they choose. This negotiation power allows them to undercut the market rate, while at the same time make much more money than possible in their homeland.[11]


Comparatively little is known about those who employ day laborers, but one study found that contractors hire the large majority of them. Private employers are the next largest group of hirers.[12] Employing day laborers is appealing because they are easily accessible, are hardworking, can be hired when needed, and are cheaper to employ since employers are not required to provide benefits packages. Employers often rehire the same workers once they have established a relationship and the laborers work skills are established.

Day Laborer Sites

Day laborer sites exist mostly in metropolitan areas. Sites are often located adjacent to paint stores, plant nurseries, truck rental stores, and home improvement or hardware stores. Laborers may congregate in the store parking lots, marketing themselves for specific types of employment. For instance, those in front of paint stores are looking for painting jobs, whereas those in front of home improvement stores are looking for general construction jobs. It is efficient for day laborer sites to be located near such establishments because it allows prospective employers to pick up supplies and workers all in one stop. However, the congregation of large numbers of laborers sometimes causes problems for merchants, who might take actions to keep the laborers off the premises, thereby displacing them to nearby street corners and sidewalks.

Day laborer sites also exist in public parks, vacant lots, and residential neighborhoods. These sites may exist for a variety of reasons; they are easily accessible to laborers and/or employers, have simply been there for many years, or have informally been allowed to exist by community members. Municipalities, church groups, and other community-based organizations have established a smaller number of day laborer sites to help deal with the large numbers of day laborers. These sites are usually regulated and pose the fewest problems for the community.

Understanding Your Local Problem

The information provided above is only a generalized description of day laborers and the circumstances of their existence. You must combine the basic facts with a more specific understanding of your local problem. Analyzing the local problem carefully will help you design a more effective response strategy.


In addition to criminal justice agencies, the following groups have an interest in the disorder at day laborer sites problem and ought to be considered for the contribution they might make to gathering information about the problem and responding to it:

  • area residents;
  • area businesses;
  • local government agencies (e.g., employment relations, public works, traffic engineering, city or county attorney, and community and economic development);
  • state government labor/employment relations agencies;
  • religious and charitable organizations serving the day laborer population;
  • immigrant and human rights groups;
  • employers of day laborers such as contractors and landscaping companies;
  • area building and landscaping supply companies; and
  • day laborers themselves.

Asking the Right Questions

The following are some critical questions you should ask in analyzing your particular day laborer-site problem, even if the answers are not always readily available. Your answers to these and other questions will help you choose the most appropriate set of responses later on.

Day Laborers

  • What do you know about the day laborers (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, immigration status, language ability, criminal history, residence)?
  • How do employers treat day laborers?
  • Are citizens victimizing day laborers?
  • How committed are day laborers to using a particular day laborer site?
  • How committed are day laborers to day laboring?


  • What do you know about those who employ day laborers (e.g., type of work, contractor, private citizen, company)?
  • How committed are employers to using day labor?
  • How committed are employers to hiring day laborers at the current location?
  • What problems have employers had in using day laborers?

Merchants and Community Members

  • How concerned about day labor sites are merchants and community members?
  • What are their complaints about day laborers or about the sites?
  • What actions, if any, have they taken in response to problems at day labor sites?


  • Where are day labor sites located? What makes the sites attractive?
  • Which day labor sites have routine problems? Which do not? Why?
  • When do problems at day labor sites occur?
  • Which area merchants do the day-labor sites harm?
  • Which area merchants benefit from the day labor sites?
  • How do the day labor sites appear (e.g., trash and/or graffiti present)?
  • How long have the day labor sites been there?
  • Are the day labor sites located in safe or in high-crime areas?
  • What are the vehicle and pedestrian traffic conditions at the day labor sites?

Human Smuggling Links

  • Are day labor sites located near residences where large numbers of laborers live?
  • Do day laborers owe money to smugglers?

Current Responses

  • What is the police departments current policy in dealing with problems associated with day laborer sites?
  • What is the police departments current policy in dealing with illegal immigrants?
  • What responses do police officers use regarding problems associated with day laborers, other than arrest and prosecution? Are any especially effective?
  • What are community and church groups doing in regard to day laborers and/or immigrants?

Measuring Your Effectiveness

Measurement allows you to determine to what degree your efforts have succeeded, and suggests how you might modify your responses if they are not producing the intended results. You should take measures of your problem before you implement responses, to determine how serious the problem is, and after you implement them, to determine whether they have been effective. You should take all measures in both the target area and the surrounding area. (For more-detailed guidance on measuring effectiveness, see the companion guide to this series, Assessing Responses to Problems: An Introductory Guide for Police Problem-Solvers.)

The following are potentially useful measures of the effectiveness of responses to problems associated with day laborers:

  • reduced number of citizen complaints about day laborers;
  • reduced reports of violence;
  • reduced reports of robberies;
  • reduced traffic congestion around day laborer sites;
  • less evidence of trash and litter;
  • fewer injuries among day laborers;
  • fewer observations of drug and alcohol use; and
  • improved perceptions of order among area merchants and residents.

Responses to the Problem of Disorder at Day Laborer Sites

Your analysis of your local problem should give you a better understanding of the factors contributing to it. Once you have analyzed your local problem and established a baseline for measuring effectiveness, you should consider possible responses to address the problem. The following response strategies provide a foundation of ideas for addressing your particular problem. These strategies are drawn from a variety of studies and police reports. Several of these strategies may apply to your communitys problem. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem. Do not limit yourself to considering what police can do: give careful consideration to who else in your community shares responsibility for the problem and can help police better respond to it. The responsibility of responding, in some cases, may need to be shifted toward those who have the capacity to implement more effective responses. (For more detailed information on shifting and sharing responsibility, see Response Guide No. 3, Shifting and Sharing Responsibility for Public Safety Problems).

General Principles for an Effective Strategy

You should consider a few general principles when developing your response strategy. Which particular responses you adopt should depend on what you learn from a careful analysis of your local problem. This should include an understanding of your communitys attitudes toward day laborers and illegal immigrants. In places where there are strong anti-illegal immigrant sentiments, perceptions of police aiding day laborers could lead to citizen backlash against the agency. Conversely, arresting day laborers and other enforcement tactics may lead to resentment of police by citizens in communities that are sympathetic to illegal immigrants. In either case, community perceptions will have to be considered in formulating your response.

Strategies that focus exclusively on arresting day laborers or enforcing immigration laws are unlikely to be effective in the long term.[13] Strategies that seek to reduce the harms caused by day laborer sites rather than those that seek to eliminate day laboring altogether are more likely to work. An effective strategy should not only deter problems associated with day laborer sites, but also must provide an appropriate location and manner in which to carry out day laboring. This will entail sanctioning prohibited behaviors and encouraging agreed-to procedures for soliciting day-labor work. This might include establishing a designated location and creating rules. It usually requires cooperation among police, other government agencies, community service groups, local merchants, employers, and day laborers themselves.

Specific Responses to Reduce Disorder at Day Laborer Sites

Managing Day Laboring

  1. Improving the organization at current day laborer sites. Problems stemming from day laboring may not require new day-laboring sites; rather, better management of the ones that exist may be the solution. Creating and posting rules and procedures for laborers and employers to follow, placing trash containers and portable or permanent restrooms at the site, and so on, will reduce some of the associated problems. Enlisting managers to oversee the area will also reduce problems. These managers can be government employees, police officers, citizen volunteers, or community service groups.
  2. Imposing time restrictions on day labor activities. Some communities have implemented time restrictions on when day laborers are allowed to solicit work. [14] Allotting certain times of the day enables police to manage the process without having to devote substantial manpower to additional hours. It also reduces problems associated with laborers who linger around the site throughout the day. Time restrictions can be permanent or temporary, until a new day labor center is constructed.
  3. Establishing new day labor centers. Many communities have established new day labor centers.[15] The advantage of this approach is that the center can be constructed from the beginning and designed to eliminate the problems found at the day labor site. A suitable location can be selected and the facility can be built to accommodate day labor activity efficiently. The disadvantages are that it will require more funding and time spent getting it approved and built. It will also require other measures to ensure that laborers and employers actually use the center. The site can be either managed or unmanaged. Managed sites will be more orderly and have fewer problems.[16]
    1. Using volunteers to manage day labor centers. Using volunteers to manage day labor centers can help to reduce costs. Volunteers can include area residents and merchants, and religious or other community groups. In some places, day laborers themselves volunteer to help run the centers.[17] However, volunteers alone are insufficient to manage the site. The center will need ongoing police oversight and support.
    2. Soliciting help from area merchants. Area merchants can help in establishing day labor centers. They can provide material and financial assistance in building the centers. For instance, in Glendale, Calif., a n affected Home Depot donated building supplies for a new center. Merchants can also prove instrumental in working with police to ensure compliance among employers and laborers with newly adopted ordinances and procedures. Lastly, merchants can be enlisted to help in the ongoing management and administration of day labor centers.
    3. Obtaining grants and other financial support. Some communities have received city and private funding to build day labor centers. Community Development Block Grants have also been awarded.[18] Other communities have established city- and privately funded nonprofit organizations.[19] To do this, it will be necessary to estimate how much funding will be required, and to identify entities with an interest in establishing and maintaining an orderly day laborer center. Because illegal immigration is politically sensitive, obtaining public funds to manage them may be difficult. You may be more successful obtaining financial support from non-governmental entities.
    4. Creating and enforcing rules and procedures at day labor centers and sites. Part of managing day labor centers involves establishing rules of conduct and procedures for laborers and employers to follow. In some communities, this has been a collective process where laborers and employers help to create the rules and procedures. This democratic process should ensure acceptance by the participants and will facilitate successful self-policing among them. The rules and procedures should, at a minimum, include the following:
      • prohibitions against drinking, drug use, and gambling;
      • prohibitions against swarming;
      • prohibitions against violence;
      • prohibitions against public urination and littering;
      • proper procedures for soliciting employers and laborers; and
      • provisions that ensure employers treat laborers fairly (e.g., pay laborers at the agreed-to price and provide breaks).
      In addition to setting rules and procedures, sanctions will also be required to deter violations. Conditions could be attached to the prohibitive behaviors, such that those who violate the rules are temporarily banned from the center or site, in addition to arrest if the behavior is criminal. Allowing day laborers and employers to help in determining sanctions will promote acceptance and self-policing.

      Examples of this include establishing specified zones where laborers and employers are allowed to solicit, creating a single-file roster system of laborers available for hire, and designating specific areas for various laborer skills (e.g., one area for construction workers and another for landscapers). See Calderon, Foster, and Rodriguez (n.d.); Ruiz (1998); and Toma and Esbenshade (2001).

    5. Forming an advisory committee. Forming an advisory committee to oversee the day labor center can help ensure that it runs efficiently, and can also increase the centers support base. People from many different groups and organizations should serve on the committee. Advisors might include employees from government social-service offices, police officers, area merchants, citizens, employers of day laborers, day laborers themselves, and members of nongovernmental community-service groups.
  4. Establishing supplemental programs at day labor centers. Some communities have implemented service, education, and training programs at day labor centers.[20] These programs provide needed services for day laborers and give them addedS incentives to use the centers. Participation in the supplementary programs also gives laborers constructive ways to spend their time while they are waiting for work. Educational and training programs include English language instruction, computer skills classes, and job preparation programs. Service programs include those for food, clothing, and shelter assistance; immigration services; legal services; banking services; tool-sharing; and health care referrals. Establishing services and programs from outside groupsgovernment or otherswill also give outsiders incentives to manage and maintain the centers.

    Establishing services to facilitate laborers use of banking services will be particularly relevant for problems involving persistent robbery of day laborers.

  5. Closing streets and alleys, diverting traffic, or regulating parking. Traffic flows and patterns at day laborer sites often pose problems. Altering traffic patterns will make it easy for employers to pick up laborers, and will reduce complaints associated with vehicle and pedestrian traffic obstructions. Establishing designated laborer-pickup zones will also reduce congestion and swarming problems. Once traffic procedures are established, it will be necessary to ensure that laborers do not interrupt the process by approaching employer vehicles outside of designated pickup areas. Care should also be taken to ensure that any traffic changes do not cause undue harm to area merchants.

Enforcing Laws

  1. Enforcing laws prohibiting disorder (e.g., trespassing, loitering, public intoxication, littering, and vandalism). Focused enforcement of disorder-related offenses will address some of the commonly found problems associated with day laborer sites. Enforcing these laws requires greater manpower and time spent monitoring the sites. Enforcement alone will not completely stop day laboring or the problems associated with it, but it does send a message to laborers that illegal behavior is unacceptable. Sanctions for lower-level offenses may also serve to remove those problematic laborers who might also commit more-serious crimes.
  2. Enforcing laws prohibiting assault and robbery. Enforcing laws against assault and robbery will further define the boundaries of unacceptable behavior for day laborers. Such offenses will tend to be reactive and will require witnesses for successful prosecution, unless an officer witnesses their occurrence. It will be difficult to develop a prosecutable case since other laborers will be reluctant to give police information out of fear regarding their immigration status. Language deficiencies will also create problems. To increase success in enforcing these (and other) laws, assigning specific multilingual officers to day labor sites will improve communication between police and laborers, which will prove valuable in gathering information.

    See Overcoming Language Barriers: Solutions for Law Enforcement PDF

  3. Establishing a highly visible police presence. A highly visible police presence, typically with extra uniformed officers, is intended to discourage illegal conduct by day laborers. It may appease area merchants or community members, but could also lead people to believe that the area is unsafe. It is also costly and will likely have only a temporary effect if not followed up with more permanent strategies, such as establishing a police substation in the area.[21] This could be augmented with private security forces.
  4. Creating and enforcing ordinances prohibiting the solicitation of work in non-designated places. Some communities have created city ordinances that prohibit the solicitation of work in certain areas.[22] These ordinances are intended to relocate day laboring to designated places. Unless the ordinances are enforced, day laboring will continue to occur in places that are convenient for laborers and employers, if not for others, even if an authorized day labor center is established. Ordinance enforcement must be comprehensive and continual.
  5. Enhancing fines/penalties for soliciting work or hiring workers in non-specified zones. It may be necessary to enhance the penalties incurred for violating work solicitation in non-designated places. Small fines will likely be viewed as an added cost of doing business. Greater fines will compel day laborers and employers to use designated zones.
  6. Initiating public-awareness campaigns. In conjunction with creating non-solicitation ordinances, some communities have used publicity campaigns to inform day laborers and employers of the new procedures, and to warn them about the sanctions if they violate the ordinances.[23] Alerting the participants serves to remove possible excuses for violating the ordinances.

    Police and others can distribute fliers and post signs at current day-laborer sites. Community service groups as well as area merchants and residents can also disseminate information. The postings and handouts should be composed in the intended audiences native language. Proper notification of the new ordinances will reduce negative sentiment resulting from subsequent enforcement.

Responses With Limited Effectiveness

  1. Conducting sweeps and enforcing immigration laws. Sweeps are large-scale arrest campaigns targeting suspected illegal immigrants at day labor sites, without the intent to prosecute. Sweeps have long been a police strategy to control visible crime problems (such as street prostitution and street drug markets) when they have been pressured to do something, but have few resources for dealing with the problem. There is little evidence that illegal-immigration sweeps are anything other than temporarily effective at solving the problem.

    Police agencies should be aware that enforcing immigration laws could lead to distrust of the police by illegal immigrants in the community. This could deter such immigrants from calling for police help when they are legitimately victimized or otherwise in need.

  2. Prohibiting day laboring outright. There is no evidence that prohibiting day laboring outright is effective in the long term. Day laboring serves a need in the informal labor market and has existed since early times. De facto prohibition of day laboring by creating ordinances against soliciting work on public street corners citywide may relocate day laboring to other places, but it will not eliminate it or associated problems.

Summary of Responses

The table below summarizes the responses to problems associated with day laborers, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

Managing Day Labor
## Response How It Works Works Best If Considerations


Improving the organization at current day laborer sites

Promotes orderly and lawful behavior and establishes site controls

the organization is efficient and addresses laborers and employers needs

Assumes current sites are acceptable to area residents and merchants and land use is permitted


Imposing time restrictions on day labor activities

Reduces the opportunities for problem behavior to occur

time restrictions are enforced and the sites are managed during designated times

Can be temporary until a day labor center is built, or it can be permanent; requires routine police presence


Establishing new day labor centers

Organizes and controls the location and process of day laboring

the design is efficient and other measures are taken to ensure it is used

Expensive; time- consuming; requires ongoing oversight and management


Using volunteers to manage day labor centers

Ensures day labor centers run and are maintained properly, and provides capable guardianship

volunteers are sampled from a variety of groups to increase the ownership of the centers

Reduces costs; will need continued governance by someone or some entity


Soliciting help from area merchants

Increases ownership of the problem

merchants have a vested interest in addressing the problem

Amount of help will vary across merchants


Obtaining grants and other financial support

Eliminates the need for tax dollars

a detailed and compelling case is provided for the needed funds

Use examples of successful day labor sites; takes time and effort to prepare proposals


Creating and enforcing rules and procedures at day labor centers and sites

Formalizes the day- laboring process, increases efficiency, and sets boundaries

rules are clearly defined and posted, and laborers and employers participate in formulating them

Requires day laborer and employer input; will require establishing sanctions for violations


Forming an advisory committee

Ensures center is maintained and increases ownership

advisors have an interest in and can contribute to the centers success

Select advisors from various groups or organizations; consider incentives for participation


Establishing supplemental programs at day labor centers

Encourages law-abiding behavior and provides access to legitimate services

the provided services meet the laborers needs

Increased costs; requires additional space at the centers


Closing streets and alleys, diverting traffic, or regulating parking

Decreases traffic congestion and increases employers ability to find and negotiate with laborers

the affected community supports the changes

Potentially costly; can harm legitimate commercial traffic; may lock the problem in rather than forcing it out

## Response How It Works Works Best If Considerations
Enforcing Laws


Enforcing laws prohibiting disorder (e.g. trespassing, loitering, public intoxication, littering, and vandalism)

Temporarily establishes order at day labor sites

enforcement is combined with other effective responses

Has only a short-term impact; may displace day labor practice to other areas


Enforcing laws prohibiting assault and robbery

Temporarily establishes order at day labor sites, and establishes police control of the area(s)

a prosecution will result in meaningful sanctions

Will be difficult to obtain witnesses for a prosecutable case


Establishing a highly visible police presence

Discourages unruly or unlawful behavior among day laborers

it is supplemented with environmental changes or site relocation

Labor- intensive; may create the perception that the area is unsafe


Creating and enforcing ordinances prohibiting the solicitation of work in non-designated places

Displaces day labor activities to designated sites

enforcement is consistent, and the designated sites are useful and efficient for laborers and employers

Requires adoption by the city council; takes time and may not pass due to legal concerns


Enhancing fines/penalties for soliciting work or hiring workers in non-specified zones

Increases the incentive to use designated day labor sites

the fines are high enough and collection is certain

New informal day labor sites may emerge in other places convenient for laborers and employers


Initiating public- awareness campaigns

Informs the community of new rules for day-laboring activities and encourages compliance

police follow through with enforcing the rules and changes are made at designated day labor sites

Proper dissemination will reduce contempt for police when they enforce the law; widespread community awareness may encourage anti-immigrant views

## Response How It Works Works Best If Considerations
Responses With Limited Effectiveness


Conducting sweeps and enforcing immigration laws

Temporarily removes illegal- immigrant laborers from the area

Produces distrust of the police by illegal immigrants throughout the community


Prohibiting day laboring outright

Seeks to eliminate day labor sites and activities citywide

Ineffective as a long-term solution; could displace day laboring


[1] Cooper (1999); Bradley (2005); Gorman (2005).

[2] Stamford (Conneticut) Police Department (2000)[Full Text].

[3] Reyes, Johnson, and Swearingen (2002).

[4] Cooper (1999); Cleeland (1999); Valenzuela (2000b)[Full Text].

[5] Valenzuela (1999) [Full Text].

[6] Peck and Theodore (2001); Kerr and Dole (2001)[Full Text]; Valenzuela (2003, 2001).

[7] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2001)[2005 Update].

[8] Valenzuela (2003).

[9] Cosgrove and Grant (1997); Valenzuela and Melendez (2003)[Full Text]; Valenzuela (2003, 2000b)[Full Text].

[10] Theodore (2000)[Full Text].

[11] Valenzuela (2000b)[Full Text].

[12] Valenzuela and Melendez (2003)[Full Text].

[13] Toma and Esbenshade (2001)[Full Text].

[14] Montgomery County (Maryland) Police Department (1995)[Full Text]

[15] Calderon (2003); Calderon, Foster, and Rodriguez (n.d.); Montgomery County (Maryland) Police Department (1995)[Full Text]; Ruiz (1998)[Full Text]; Toma and Esbenshade (2001)[Full Text]; Kansas City (Missouri) Police Department (2004)[Full Text].

[16] Toma and Esbenshade (2001)[Full Text]; Valenzuela (2000a)[Full Text].

[17] Glendale (California) Police Department (1997)[Full Text]; Ruiz (1998)[Full Text].

[18] Glendale (California) Police Department (1997)[Full Text]; Ruiz (1998)[Full Text].

[19] Calderon (2003).

[20] Calderon (2003); Glendale (California) Police Department (1997); Gorman (2005); Ruiz (1998)[Full Text]; Toma and Esbenshade (2001)[Full Text].

[21] Montgomery County (Maryland) Police Department (1995)[Full Text].

[22] Glendale (California) Police Department (1997)[Full Text]; Ruiz (1998)[Full Text].

[23] Montgomery County (Maryland) Police Department (1995)[Full Text]; Glendale (California) Police Department 1997)[Full Text]; Ruiz (1998).


Bradley, D. (2005). Day Laborer Site Creates a Controversy. The Loudoun Easterner, July 13, pp. 36, 39.

Calderon, J. (2003). Partnership in Teaching and Learning: Combining the Practice of Critical Pedagogy With Civic Engagement and Diversity. Peer Review 5(3):2224.

Calderon, J., S. Foster, and S. Rodrguez (n.d.). Organizing Immigrant Workers: Action Research and Strategies in the Pomona Day Labor Center.

Cleeland, N. (1999). Many Day Laborers Prefer Their Work to Regular Jobs. Times Mirror Company.

Cooper, M. (1999). Laborers Wanted, but Not Living Next Door. New York Times, November 28, p. 1.

Cosgrove and Grant (1997). National Survey of Municipal Police Departments on Urban Quality-of-Life Initiatives. Washington, D.C.: Police Executive Research Forum.

Glendale (California)Police Department (1997). Day Labor Project: A Communitys Response to the Problems of Casual Laborers. Submission for the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing. [Full Text]

Gorman, A. (2005). Day Laborers, Cities Seek a Way That Will Work. Los Angeles Times, August 29, p. A1.

Kansas City (Missouri) Police Department (2004). Westside Community Action Network CenterDay Laborer Project. Submission for the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing.[Full Text]

Kerr, D., and C. Dole (2001). Challenging Exploitation and Abuse: A Study of the Day Labor Industry in Cleveland. Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University.[Full Text]

Larrowe, C. (1955). Shape-Up and Hiring Hall: A Comparison of Hiring Methods and Labor Relations on the New York and Seattle Waterfronts. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press.

Mohl, R. (1971). Poverty in New York, 1783-1825. New York: Oxford University Press.

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Peck, J., and N. Theodore (2001). Contingent Chicago: Restructuring the Spaces of Temporary Labor. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 25(3): 471496.

Montgomery County (Maryland) Police Department (1995). Comprehensive Action Plan for the Peerless Property. Submission for the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing.[Full Text]

Reyes, B., H. Johnson, and R. Swearingen (2002). Holding the Line? The Effect of the Recent Border Buildup on Unauthorized Immigration. San Francisco: Public Policy Institute of California.

Ruiz, J. (1998). Day Laborers and Community All Benefit From New Employment Facility. Problem-Solving Quarterly 11(1):15.[Full Text]

Stamford (Connecticut) Police Department (2000). Mobile ATM Robberies. Submission for the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing.[Full Text]

Theodore, N. (2000). A Fair Days Pay? Homeless Day Laborers in Chicago. Chicago: University of Illinois at Chicago, Center for Urban Economic Development.[Full Text]

Toma, R., and J. Esbenshade (2001). Day Laborer Hiring Sites: Constructive Approaches to Community Conflict. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.[Full Text]

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2001). Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements. February, Technical Note. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor.[2005 Update]

Valenzuela, A., Jr. (2003). Day Labor Work. Annual Review of Sociology 29(1):307333.

(2001). Day Laborers as Entrepreneurs? Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 27(2):335352.

(2000a). Controlling Day Labor: Government, Community, and Worker Responses. In D. Mitchell and P. Nomura (eds.), California Policy Options 2001 4:4159. Los Angeles: UCLA Anderson Business Forecast, School of Public Policy Social Research. [Full Text]

(2000b). Working on the Margins: Immigrant Day Labor Characteristics and Prospects for Employment. Working Paper No. 22. La Jolla, Calif.: Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, University of California at San Diego. [Full Text]

(1999). Day Laborers in Southern California: Preliminary Findings From the Day Labor Survey. Working Paper. Los Angeles: Center for the Study of Urban Poverty, Institute of Social Science Research, University of California, Los Angeles. [Full Text]

Valenzuela, A., Jr. and E. Melendez (2003). Day Labor in New York: Findings From the NYDL Survey. Working Paper. Los Angeles: Center for the Study of Urban Poverty, Institute of Social Science Research, University of California at Los Angeles; and New York: Community Development Research Center, Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, New School University. [Full Text]

Related POP Projects


The quality and focus of these submissions vary considerably. With the exception of those submissions selected as winners or finalists, these documents are unedited and are reproduced in the condition in which they were submitted. They may nevertheless contain useful information or may report innovative projects.

Comprehensive Action Plan for the Peerless Property, Montgomery County Police Department (MD, US), 1995

Day Laborer Problem Solving, Herndon Police Department (VA, US), 2006

Day Laborer Project, Plano Police Department (TX, US), 2006

Day Labor Project [Goldstein Award Winner], Glendale Police Department (CA, US), 1997

Day Worker Action Plan, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office (FL, US), 2010

Mobile ATM Robberies, Stamford Police Department (CT, US), 2000

Westside CAN Center: Day Laborer Project, Kansas City Police Department (MO, US), 2004