Illegal US immigrants take any job to survive

The economic crisis has claimed over 6 million jobs in the US and the employment market is flooded. And with illegal immigrants ready to work for low pay new job seekers have tough competition.

Oscar Garcia is standing in a parking lot looking for a job… Less than five miles from the White House one can find many groups of men like him – day laborers willing to do pretty much anything for money.

“Sometimes I make $100 a week, sometimes I could probably make $200 – it depends,” Garcia says.

Garcia is from El Salvador but he’s been living in the United States since he was five years old. He says he lost his legal documentation so it’s hard for him to find a job.

“I need a green card to go get a job, and that’s another reason why I’m here just trying to make some money,” Garcia explains.

It’s no secret though that most of the day laborers are illegal immigrants – some studies indicate as much as 80 per cent of them.

But with unemployment levels in the US reaching 9.5 per cent, there has been a crackdown on illegal immigrants in the area.

Casa de Maryland, a local non-profit organization, has made it its mission to help out immigrants. It has set up work centers to give day laborers a place to wait for work.

“We provide assistance and services for all the people. With legal documentation or without it – we don’t care about that,” says Marinio Cordoba, Casa de Maryland organizer.

Centers like this exist across the state of Maryland. Critics say they promote illegal immigration but the people who work for the organization say they’re just trying to help immigrants find jobs – regardless of their paperwork.

“I don’t think this is illegal activities, this is human being activities,” Marinio Cordoba says.

And people like Oscar Garcia say they are not looking for a handout – just looking to get by.

“A lot of these guys are just looking for work. They’re not looking for the government to give them anything for free,” Oscar Garcia says.

It’s been a few days since Garcia got a job last time. But he says he’s determined to do whatever he has to in order to survive.