“We’re Just Not Blended Yet”: The Case of Latino Day Labor in Prince William County




Pierson, Leo J

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



When communities enact bans or tighten restrictions, and increase the level of enforcement against their local immigrant population, it becomes increasingly risky for immigrant day laborers to make themselves visible in public settings (Claffey 2006; Cleaveland & Pierson 2008; Jonas 2006). This report examines how jornaleros, as legally vulnerable labor market participants and socially marginalized residents of Prince William County (PWC), strive to attract gainful employment and economic advantage for the families they have left behind. The principal research question asks the following: Constrained by their dialectical relationship with anti-immigrant communities, how do we begin to understand the social role that jornaleros play in their struggles to publicly engage juridically private space? Based on my past year of ethnographic fieldwork among both native citizens and immigrant day laborers in PWC, I describe in this paper how the hostility of nativist, anti-immigrant sentiments transitions into active aggression against Prince William’s jornalero community. I then show how these jornaleros, many of whom are undocumented, develop nuanced tactics (De Certeau 1984), sometimes working collectively, for balancing the opportunities and threats that their visibility generates within this social context.



Immigration, Globalization, Day Labor, Inequality, Nativism