The Front Line of the Labor Market

A popular anti-immigrant tactic in Arizona is to try to ban day laborers from public places.  Though it's not how I would choose to sell my labor, many people choose to advertise and sell their labor from street corners and in public spaces.  And many of these folks, contrary to common perceptions, are legal residents of this country.

Here is a bit of good news:

A federal judge on Monday issued a temporary order blocking the town
of Cave Creek from enforcing a law aimed at stopping day laborers from
gathering on streets to look for work.

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver found that the
ordinance is an unconstitutional restriction of free speech, and that
the possibility of irreparable harm exists.

"Plaintiffs, as day laborers, face not only the loss of First
Amendment freedoms, but also the loss of employment opportunities
necessary to support themselves and their families," Silver wrote in
the ruling.



  1. cesqy:

    I hope they set up a new day-labor camp across the street from your place of business or home. The vagrancy, crime, and bathroom smells should change your opinion of an unregulated right to employment and free speech. Of course, if it's somebody elses problem you could call it capitalism and free enterprise.

  2. Solar Lad:


    The town of Cave Creek has the right and ability to regulate day-labor camps; they just can't ban them.

    For instance, they could send a police cruiser around every 15 min. to check up on what's happening.

    In any case, people OFTEN choose to exercise their rights in ways which offends others. Look at the battles over pornography and abortion. No one has the right to not be offended.

  3. Solar Lad:


    Further, I just saw in the Because, You Know, People Are All Exactly the Same and Need the Exact Same Things thread that you professed to be outraged by workers getting low pay and no benefits; yet here you seem to be willing to BAR day laborers from receiving ANY wages, merely so that you might be spared "bathroom smells".

    Don't you find that to be a bit hypocritical, or at least contradictory ?

  4. Ian Random:

    I sure hope they are paying taxes on those earnings, including FICA.

  5. cesqy:

    @solar lad
    Globalization and illegal immigration are mantras of capitalists and the cause. The economic effect is worker exploitation and low wages. No contradiction or hypocriticism in my mind and none intended since I feel the long term result will a lower standard of living for most Americans and my grandkids. The rich want to get richer and the coyote is no different.

  6. Brad Warbiany:


    I hope they set up a new day-labor camp across the street from your place of business or home.

    (emphasis added)

    You just told me what I need to know. Who is "they"?

    Do I support the government setting up day-labor camps anywhere? No. Do I support the right of private landowners to determine who can or cannot advertise their services on their own property? Yes. That means that I disagree with any attempt by the government to disallow day-laborers to offer services, but if Home Depot suddenly decided they didn't want day laborers on their property (parking lots), I'd support Home Depot in their efforts to eject those people-- who would then be trespassing.

  7. Solar Lad:


    Fair enough, as far as illegals go.

    However, as noted in the main post, many day laborers are U.S. citizens. Therefore, since you intend no hypocricy or contradiction, I expect that you have no opposition to those folks waiting for work on street corners, yes ?

  8. cesqy:

    @solar lad
    In my opinion, most, I repeat, most day laborers (you use the term--"those folks")where I live are not legally in the U.S. Proving that without violating individual rights is part of the regulation/enforcement problem--identification, taxes, and negative social innuendo being others. The employers who I see use "those folks" are looking for cheap labor with no paperwork or they don't want to pay the required employment taxes.

  9. Anon E. Mouse:

    You all miss the point. Go read the Constitution:
    Amendment I
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    No where does it say "citizens" only get the right to peacably assemble or the right of free speech (yes, that matters. Citizens and people are two different albeit overlapping things under the Constitution).

    This doesn't mean you can't kick them off of your property, you just can't kick them off of mine or off of a public place.

    cesgy, it is only by accident of birth that you aren't sneaking across a border looking for a decent life. I hope for your sake that life doesn't get any more fair. (apologies to PJ O'R).

  10. Rocky Mountain:

    Anon E. Mouse wrote, "No where does it say "citizens" only get the right to peacably assemble or the right of free speech (yes, that matters. Citizens and people are two different albeit overlapping things under the Constitution)."

    I don't think so because I think a general understanding of the use of the word 'people' in this case means people who are citizens of the U.S. For example, the 2nd amendment to the constitution states, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" Do you really believe that this right extends to non-citizens? It seems clear that 'people' in the US constitutional context is the same as 'citizen'.

  11. mahtso:

    “A popular anti-immigrant tactic in Arizona is to try to ban day laborers from public places.” I don’t believe that this is true; but because the statement is written in the passive voice (who is doing the banning?) it is difficult to dispute with facts.

    The Cave Creek law barred all people from soliciting on the streets and so I’d want to see proof that it was aimed at “immigrants” before accepting Coyote’s statement as true with respect to that law. Phoenix also has a law banning solicitation from the public streets. No one is banned from a public place, but certain acts are banned from public places. The selling of one’s labor is not the only act that is so banned. (And to be clear: these bans must be constitutional, so if Judge Silver’s ruling holds up, then I’d say it is a good thing that Cave Creek’s law is not enforceable.)

    To the extent that there is any truth to Coyote’s statement, the actors are probably of two types: xenophobes (a very small fraction, in my opinion) and those that feel the federal government has been negligent in keeping Arizona secure from a major influx of illegal immigrants that has caused social, economic and ecologic damage to Arizona and people that are here legally (immigrants and natives). States and municipalities have limited options with respect to stopping the illegal immigration and many people feel that shutting off the illicit job market is a good method. (About 75% of Arizona voters approved a measure to punish employers for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, which is something Coyote has written about. I understand Oklahoma has a similar law.)

    Ironically (perhaps), when the feds beefed up border enforcement in California and Texas several years ago, the influx of illegal immigrants to Arizona increased (i.e., border enforcement works).