Monday, February 16, 2009

guess who's rebuilding New Orleans...

...workers in the informal economy, that's who.

The New York Times reports on the dangers of being a day-laborer in the city. The laborers, most from Central and South America, are paid in cash, which makes them targets for robbers. Indeed, they are colloquially known as "walking A.T.M.’s," for the quick dollars thieves can take from them.

Here is the dispiriting nut graf: "It is an under-the-radar crime epidemic: unarmed Hispanic workers are regularly mugged, beaten, chased, stabbed or shot, the police and the workers themselves say. The ruined homes they sometimes squat in, doubling- or quadrupling-up at night, are broken into, and they have been made to lie face down while being robbed. They are shot when, not understanding a mugger’s command, they fail to hand over their cash quickly enough, shot while they are working on houses, and shot when they go home for the day. Some have been killed, their bodies flown home to families who had been dependent on their remittances."

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