By David Bacon
Dollars and Sense – September/October 2017

Pablo Alvarado (center), staff person for the Day Labor Union, tries to convince a group of day laborers getting work on the corner at Sunset Blvd. to instead go to the Hollywood day labor site administered by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles. The site is an alternative to the shape-up, where workers wait on a corner for a contractor to come by and offer them work.Off Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, 6/18/98

One winter morning in Los Angeles, a group of health care activists set up a street-corner clinic for day laborers. One of the day laborers who lined up for medical tests was Omar Sierra. He got to the head of the line and then took his seat at the testing station. A nurse tied off his arm and inserted the needle to draw blood, when all of a sudden Migra agents came running across the street. Everybody panicked and ran. Omar tore off the tourniquet, ripped out the needle, and ran as well. He was lucky that day, because he escaped. But a lot of his friends didn’t. So when he got home, disturbed about what had happened, he decided to write a song about it, which for a while became the anthem of the National Day Laborers Organizing Network.

I’m going to sing you a story friends
That will make you cry
How one day in front of K-Mart
The Migra came down on us
Sent by the sheriff
Of this very same place …

We don’t understand why
We don’t know the reason
Why there is so much
Discrimination against us
In the end we’ll wind up all the same in the grave …

With this verse I leave you
I’m tired of singing
Hoping the Migra
Won’t come after us again
Because in the end we all have to work.

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