Resources Available for Day Laborers Looking for Work

Posted: Updated:

WESLACO – Some people from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border looking for jobs take what they find as day laborers.

Sometimes work can’t come fast enough. Other times, the workers aren’t in the Rio Grande Valley legally.

Day laborers can stand in front of stores or on the corners all day. A man we met at one of those corners said all there's left, is to wait. He's in the country illegally. We'll keep his identity hidden and refer to him as Patrick. 

"Sometimes I am here at 8 a.m. and be here until 3 p.m. and there is no work," he said. "There have been times that I have gone four days without working."

Patrick said they wait for someone to drive up and ask if they would like to work.

"I do electrical work, carpentry. I could probably build a house from the ground up. Masonry, putting bricks and foundations," he said. 

He said pay varies, "it depends on what needs to get done. Twenty dollars to mow a lawn, $80 for making a canopy."

They can be from the U.S. and some come to the country illegally.

"Yes, the men are from here, the USA and Mexico and other places. About half of us don't have papers and the other half do have papers," said Patrick. "Immigration sent me back two times. They caught me twice, but I came back. I tell them, 'Why do they send me back if I will find a way to get back?'"

Patrick's been in the Valley for 11 months. He crossed to find work and provide for his three children. He said jobs in Mexico are hard to find at times. 

"I will go back to Mexico in May. I also work in the oil industry in Mexico, for Pemex. But work slowed down and I have to come looking for work," he told CHANNEL 5 NEWS. 

Patrick said he lives in an apartment and pays $100 per month for rent. 

"So, we come here and we stand here. Most of us get here early in the morning and we wait for God to provide work," he said. 

Mario Ramirez has a government-issued work permit. He said many people have different perceptions of day laborers.

"The reality is my country doesn't have the opportunities. It has opportunities but they are very limited, things are more expensive. You can't survive the way you can here. When your money is gone, that's it," he said. 

Ramirez said many people have different perceptions of day laborers. 

“Most of us are not bad people. We don’t come with weapons. We come with intentions to work,” he said.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS found out Workforce Solutions can help people like Ramirez.

“If they’re legal to work in the United States, if they have a work permit we can help them and refer them to find work. But if they don’t, what we can do is also find resources out there. For example, if they need education services we can partner with maybe Region One, help them get the literacy skills they need so they can take their GED. So they can also apply for citizenship,” John Hershey, the community engagement director at Workforce Solutions, said.

Hershey explained there is a large need for people who are bilingual.

He said some of those jobs include manufacturing at call centers and healthcare jobs in the Valley.

Patrick and Ramirz said they will continue to work with new bosses, trades and places every day. 

"Whether we have paper or don't have papers, we are all looking for a better opportunity," Ramirez said. 

Both said they hope to one day get off the street and have a stable job. 

Para leer noticias en español, visite nuestra sección Español.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS is dedicating two weeks of coverage to diabetes. Learn more on the Heart of the Valley page.