Rocco Rorandelli July 2, 2008Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
Tags: Immigration, Latino Day workers
E. and his Son at Home. Yonkers, New York, 2007
Rocco Rorandelli was born in Florence in 1973. His interest in photography commenced at an early age, but it wasn’t until completing his doctoral studies in Biology that he decided to commit to his lifelong passion. He has complted projects in Africa, the Americas, and Europe. His photos have been published in magazines such as D di Repubblica, Vanity Fair, Corriere della Sera Magazine, as well as shown in exhibits in Europe and the U.S. His work has also been shown in numerous advertising, fund raising and awareness campaigns for various social (Terre des hommes, UniCOOP) and academic institutions such as Cornell University and Sarah Lawrence College. He is a founding member of the Terra Project photo collective and is represented by Grazia Neri.
About the Photograph:
“This work on the Latin-American community in New York had a very slow start. It took me several weeks to get this close to someone, to be invited in their home. It wasn’t a matter of shyness. I simply did not feel right asking as I could tell they did not feel inviting. I often see this happening, trust building all in a sudden, when you don’t expect it. I was supposed to fly to New Orleans that weekend, and I had not yet accessed the private circle of friends of any of the workers I had met. That Friday night, a snowstorm reached NYC and the next day my flight from La Guardia was postponed for three days. That’s how I found myself in Yorkers early in the morning, and how I was invited the next day for a Dominican and Mexican lunch. I missed something in New Orleans, I gained memories and closeness in Yonkers, this is one of the several outcomes of changing plans.”
Every day at 6 a.m., in rain or snow, thousands of immigrants from Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, El Salvador and other parts of Latin America gather at corners (called esquinas, paradas or palitos) hoping to be offered contingent work in construction, landscaping, or other fields. New York City’s suburbs are an increasingly important destination for immigrant workers from American countries south of the United States, who are too often perceived as a source of cheap and easily exploitable labor. However, the daily wait for work takes place not only in Yonkers and Westchester County, but throughout the United States.
Day laborers are a diverse group which might include workers in possession of valid visas, but mainly consists of ‘illegal aliens’ who entered the country without the required documents and need to live ‘in the shadow’ in a society that they work for. Transnational migration by often desperately poor people searching for work is largely a result of global “free trade” policies championed by the current and previous Washington administrations. These policies have left many nations of the global south unable to support their own people, causing a torrent of northward migration. The same policies have contributed to the demise of unionized industries that provided stable employment and a path to the middle class for the post-World War II generation in the U.S. As a result of these circumstances, many day laborers are employed in undesirable or dangerous jobs and are frequently exploited by employers who fail to pay agreed upon wages. A lack of resources, such as a Workers’ Center, as well as problems with police harassment, medical care, housing and normalization of immigration status, interferes with their ability to seek redress for these concerns.