The day laborers at first hesitated to open up with Diene, an investigator sent by the United Nations to ferret out signs of American injustice. But as they talked, they warmed to the opportunity to present their own experiences of this country’s racial divide.
“The Irish? People of Irish descent? Very strict, very disciplined, very racist; but they pay you very well. Nineteen dollars an hour,” said a worker named Diego. In Los Angeles, Diene was told by a collection of workers who have traveled across the country, there is less racism but employers are miserly. White employers will pay illegal workers less for doing the same job as legal residents, and Latino employers don’t care about immigration status but are the most likely to try to stiff them on pay.
“Do employers ever ask the race of workers when they call the center seeking laborers?” Diene asked. The answer was affirmative. “Ah, I need to know that. My report must be very specific.”
Ladies and gentlemen, your UN at work!