Male Day Laborers and Prostitution

  Male Day Laborers and Prostitution


By Chance Kelsey,  

Many Latino day laborers have reported that some of the men who come to pick them up to work for money are under cover gay men who pay for sex, some men pretending to be employers drug day laborers and sexually assault (rape) them once they arrive at the location, and others after the job is complete offer the day laborers lunch — but drug them food and beverages, which renders the laborers unconscious, and then sexually assault them.

Through word of mouth about these men who come looking for day laborers to have sex with — this has caused certain day laborers in Long beach, California and Rancho Cucamonga, California to come to these spots to sell their bodies. These locations are gradually becoming male prostitution rings.

I believe also in other cities through out America where there are day laborers the same sexual assaults take place.

 Many day laborers carry tuberculosis, and other illnesses that they brought with them from their countries. These men who pretend to be employers and also, gay men themselves can easily catch HIV, AIDS, or STD (sexually transmitted disease).

The day laborers don’t report these sexual crimes to the police because they are often illegal immigrants from Mexico and South & Central America.. The men don’t like talking about it because of shame and embarrassment. Now with the Newspapers and media being aware of what has been happening this is the first step towards dealing with the problem.


Male Day Laborers Turn to Prostitution

La Opinion, News Feature, Story by Claudia Núñez, Translated by Elena Shore, Posted: Dec 22, 2007

Traducción al español

Editor’s Note: As harsh immigration measures punish those that employ undocumented workers, an investigation by La Opinión newspaper found that large numbers of male day laborers are now being targeted for a different kind of underground activity: sex work.

This is the first of two articles judged as "best from Hispanic media in 2007." It was originally posted Sept. 19, 2007.

LOS ANGELES – Their faces reflect how uncomfortable it is for them to talk about. On street corners where day laborers congregate, it’s no longer as easy to find work – but there are plenty of offers of sex for money. There is also a high incidence of workers being drugged and raped, something suffered by many, and hidden by all out of shame.

"The situation is happening more frequently. It happens more on the unorganized corners than in day labor centers, but the problem itself is widespread. It’s like a well-known secret that everyone knows and has experienced, but no one talks about,” explained Pablo Alvarado, national coordinator of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

In an investigation by La Opinión on various day labor corners in Long Beach, Rancho Cucamonga, Los Angeles and Moreno Valley, more than half of those interviewed admitted having received at least one offer of sex in exchange for money.

“Gringos see us as cheap brothels and not as day labor centers. Many enter into it (knowingly), but the majority of us are tricked into it. They tell us it’s a job and later it turns out they want sex. I have co-workers who have even been drugged without realizing it,” said Ricardo Ceniceros, who is registered to find work at a day labor center in Rancho Cucamonga.

Mauricio Rodríguez, a day laborer at a center in Long Beach, was hired to paint the bedrooms of an apartment. "’We’re going to pay you well,’" two men, one white and the other Latino, told him when he opened the door of their green Honda Civic.

According to Rodríguez, when they arrived at the apartment he was supposed to paint, a middle-class apartment in the heart of the Southern California city of Signal Hill, the shouts and insults began.

“’We don’t want you to talk, pendejo. Take off your clothes and move over there,’” the Latino man ordered.

“They shouted insults at me. You could tell they liked humiliating me. They had knives on the table and it really scared me, especially the white guy who pointed a syringe at me (supposedly) filled with drugs. I don’t know how I did it — I didn’t stop talking and, when I could, I got closer to the door until I could open it and run away,” said Rodríguez.

With the memory of his experience still fresh, Rodríguez brought La Opinión to the place where, according to him, he had been attacked days before.

The word “Welcome,” painted with the colors of the American flag, hung from the door marked number six. From behind the door, rock songs in English could be heard. However, no one answered the repeated knocks at the door.

“They bring men to this apartment one after another and it always sounds like things are being knocked around,” said a neighbor who preferred not to give her name.

Mauricio is sure that he is not the only one who has been taken to this apartment.


The first car appeared a little before noon. As if out of habit, dozens of day laborers rushed toward the red Toyota truck that pulled up on the corner of Grove and Arrow streets in Rancho Cucamonga.

A mix of sweat and alcohol emanated from the small circle of men that formed next to the vehicle. In a matter of seconds, the group dissolved. Only four workers remained to negotiate.

“They play for the other team [they are gay]. They keep coming here in different cars but we know their faces and it’s best not to get too close," said Francisco Tapia, who is known to come to this corner to look for work on the weekends.

Of the group that continued negotiating, only the youngest got in the truck.

“What’s your motive for hiring day laborers?” La Opinión asked the two older white men as the worker settled into the backseat of the truck.

“Who are you? What’s this for?” the driver asked defensively.

Inside the vehicle, the worker looked scared.

“We are doing an investigation about people who hire workers for sex acts. What do you think about that?” La Opinión asked.

“I don’t know anything,” the driver answered and accelerated, clearing a path through a group of curious onlookers who were approaching the car.

On the corner, aggressive jokes and insults with words like “fags” could be heard. Everything was a mockery, a game. Some simply went quiet. No one talked seriously about the issue. It was clear that it made them uncomfortable.

In addition to those who choose to prostitute themselves voluntarily, experts say there is another population of temporary workers who have been drugged, sexually abused and tricked.

“I was offered a job on a ranch, together with three other (workers) from the corner. When we arrived there, they had us clean the stables and then they gave us lunch. A while later, I felt everything start spinning. Some of them started to grope us but I couldn’t even throw a punch. Everything was blurry. When I woke up, they had thrown me in a vacant lot and I didn’t know where I was. I think they ‘f…’ [raped] me. And what do I get out of suing them, if in this country the law always sides with what the boss says?” asked a 19-year-old worker who looks for work on the street corners of Moreno Valley in Riverside County.

Despite the high incidence of harassment and sex crimes, state reports show no records of such cases being brought by a day laborer.

“We’ve investigated the incidents and we have found a lot of cases but, because of fear and shame, the day laborer will not present the charges formally before a judge. There is not one case like this in the courts. These immigrants are afraid that they’ll be accused of being gay on their work corners or that they’ll be deported, and it’s very difficult to change that mentality. They can’t see that what happened to them is a crime,” said lawyer Anel Flores of the Los Angeles Legal Aid Foundation.

But not all are victims. There is also a growing number of men who go to the corners with the sole purpose of offering their bodies for money, according to researchers.

“We don’t know how much this situation has grown but we’re sure that the numbers of people who prostitute themselves are greater and the problem is growing,” said Víctor Martínez, director of the organization Bienestar.

On the corner where Ángel Sánchez goes to look for work, between 15 and 20 vehicles arrive each month with the intention of picking up men for sexual favors, according to workers consulted by La Opinión.

“They charge $100, $120 a night. A lot accept it or name their price. Some employers already have their favorites and they come looking for them. Those of us who don’t do it know their cars and we don’t approach them. For us, the danger isn’t them; it’s the perverts who hire us and then trick us. When you open the car door you never know what risks await you,” he said.

Sánchez’s words are rough as they come out of his mouth. The streets have taught him that this isn’t something one should talk about. “Men are not meant to be prostitutes,” he says and his face reflects the pain of talking about the issue, even though it is, simply, reality. 

Male Day Laborers Turn to Prostitution

  1. Elle

    Wow that was gripping and informative. These Americans are willing to commit two crimes in one: hiring day laborers, and soliciting prostitutes.

  2. Chance

    @ Elle,

    And these types of Americans who do these things claim often they don’t want undocumented day labors here in America.

  3. Elle

    Yes, that’s incredible to think…that hadn’t occurred to me.

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