Woman hopes race raises awareness of issues facing day laborers

03/01/2006
Via the Stamford Advocate

STAMFORD
Ingrid Fernandez is not related to any of Stamford’s day laborers, but she calls them her boys.

Many of her friends are day laborers and she often drops by the labor
pickup zone on the East Side to talk to them. She uses her knowledge of
English and social services to help them any way she can, such as
accompanying them to court when they claim their employers did not pay
them properly.

The Stamford mother is
scheduled to fly this morning to California to participate in a
cross-country race that aims to raise awareness about day laborers and
the issues they face. Fernandez said she volunteered to attempt the
3,000-mile race to represent Connecticut’s day laborers and ensure the
runners will pass through Stamford.

“If they don’t come by here, they won’t know about our guys. They won’t
know about our problems,” said Fernandez, 41, a native of Honduras who
works as a pharmacy technician. “Now they will know. I’m letting them
know about my people.”

Issues surrounding day laborers have
been at the forefront of the nation’s heated immigration debate. There
have been protests for and against laborers — mostly Hispanic men
without proper immigration documents — throughout the country,
including in Stamford.

The National Day Laborer Organizing
Network in California is sponsoring the race, which will start in
California on Saturday, pass through Washington, D.C., and finish in
New York City in a couple of months. About a dozen runners, including
Fernandez, will attempt to run or walk the distance, and will be joined
by many other day laborer advocates along the way, said Chris Newman,
legal coordinator for the network.

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