Migrant workers struggle to remain in the center that for 15 years has functioned as their source of employment and empowerment.

Dozens of activists, day laborers and community leaders gathered Thursday at the CARECEN day lab center, in the Westlake area, to ask local officials and allies to help them keep the center from disappearing.

The Day Labor Center run by the CARECEN-LA organization, on the corner of Wilshire and Union, serves 60 to 80 day laborers daily. The Wilshire Union company offered CARECEN the town — free of charge — 15 years ago to provide jobs for the day laborer community. Through programs with the city, the center has obtained funds to remain standing.

However, on December 20, 2019 CARECEN received a letter from Wilshire Union requesting that the Day Labor Center dislodge the premises for this January 17.

Martha Arévalo, director of CARECEN, said that the displacement of people and families is constantly being seen and it is not the time to close or cut programs that benefit working immigrants.

“This space is extremely important for our people. It is a space where they receive services, facilitate hiring with employers, educating workers, informing them about the theft of wages, educating them, ”said Arévalo shortly before starting a demonstration outside the day laborers center.

The letter received four days before Christmas explains that in recent years the day lab center has become a "nuisance" and a "plague."

The center also train in various trades. (Archive)

"Wilshire Union has seen an increase in criminal and hostile behavior among individuals who appear to be applicants for the Day Labor Center," reads the letter signed by Geoffrey M. Gold of the firm Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP. "Numerous photos, video and first-hand experiences have revealed an alarming amount of illegal use of alcohol and drugs, public urination, vandalism, theft and, most worrisome, threatening behavior towards Wilshire Union employees and visitors."

However, Arévalo refutes the accusations and said that this is only an attack on immigrants locally.

"(Wilshire Union) is using the same methods Trump uses to criminalize our community," said Arévalo. "They deserve their space too."

The center saved him

A year ago a family disappointment led Marlon Aguilar, 38, to fall into depression and therefore to lose everything in his life including the relationship with his partner and all his belongings.

"I had wrong thoughts, I plunged into alcohol and ended up living on the street," Aguilar said Thursday during the demonstration.

For six months, the Honduran was sleeping in the MacArthur Park until someone told him about the CARECEN Center for Labor Workers at the corner of Wilshire and Union.

Marlon Aguilar is a day laborer who received help from the Day Labor Center. (Jacqueline García)

“I came to this organization, I received the best support, they gave me clothes, they gave me coffee, bread. I was too hungry and they fed me. They helped me with what was possible, ”said Aguilar, who now arrives daily to look for work as a day laborer. "Little by little I grabbed my life again."

Aguilar said he is disappointed, as are dozens of day laborers, and fearful of losing the center that continues to offer support to date.

“Sometimes being here is better than being with my family. They understand me more, ”Aguilar said.

They arrive to present support

When other organizations and day laborers learned about the eviction, they didn't mind losing a few hours of work in order to support their affected colleagues.

Several of them said that it is illogical that they want to close the day laborers center because even if it is closed, workers will continue to reach that corner because it is widely known by contractors and people looking for labor.

Marcos Vega, who has been a day laborer for the past six years, said they will not allow their classmates to be evicted because the services they receive are very helpful.

“To prevent them from taking a bath in the street, these places are needed,” said Vega, who is a member of the day laborers center of downtown Los Angeles IDEPSCA. "We are part of the community."

Carlos Yanez, coordinator of the IDEPSCA day lab center said they are going to show the owners that the day laborer community is part of the community and it is not fair to evict them.

“Los Angeles faces many evictions – gentrification- currently, and maybe they want to take them out so they can get more money from that property, ”said Yanez.

Erasto Mondragón arrived with a group of fellow laborers from Harbor City to show his teammates that unity is strength.

"We well know that a center is always a support for us to live and eat and pay the rent," said Mondragón. "Today we can dance or we can cry, it depends on us."

The workers showed up yesterday worried at the workplace. (Jacqueline García / The Opinion)

Both CARECEN and the day laborers said they will fight to remain in place and refuse to leave.

While the organization and activists asked for support from Councilor Gil Cedillo, Wilshire Union has also made a proposal.

Through a letter sent to Councilor Cedillo, Wilshire Union said they have the will to continue supporting organizations that benefit the local community.

"As such, Wilshire Union invites your office to help identify or propose another charitable organization that can make use of the property without encouraging or allowing the criminal and hostile activity to which Wilshire Union has been exposed in recent years," he said. read in the letter addressed to councilor Cedillo.

"Wilshire Union would be pleased to consider offering the space previously occupied by CARECEN to a better, managed and responsible organization," added the councilor.

Without giving many details, Conrado Terrazas, spokesman for Councilor Cedillo said the councilor's office is doing everything possible to maintain the Day laborers in Wilshire and Union. ”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here