José A. Alvarado Jr.

Photographer
Location: New York City, New York
Nationality: Puerto Rican American
Biography: José A. Alvarado Jr. is a Puerto Rican photographer dedicated to documenting class inequality, civic engagement, and contemporary issues in Puerto Rico and New York City. He works primarily in long-form storytelling, using visual imagery... MORE
News
for Gothamist: For asylum seekers looking to work in New York, desperation meets necessity.
josé a. alvarado jr.
Nov 4, 2022
Location: New York City
Summary
“I didn’t have the option to demand more,” he told the group. “I came here without papers, I had nothing, I was hungry. And the man said he needed someone, he needed someone for $80.” He added, “If he said $50, I still would have gone.”
Eduardo Palencia, joined by dozens of other Central and South American immigrants, rose before sunrise on a recent morning to wait on a Jackson Heights street corner for a job that would never come.

In 50-degree weather, the 35-year-old Venezuelan prowled the sidewalk by a 7 train stop — one of the city’s main day-laborer hubs, called “paradas” in Spanish. A friend suggested the site after days of fruitless job-hunting at local restaurants.

Wearing a Yankees cap and jacket gifted by a local church, Palencia waited until the late afternoon for a potential employer in a passing vehicle to stop. The former driver, exterminator, air-duct cleaner, and restaurant worker in Venezuela said he was willing to take whatever work he could get.

“Whatever price they’ll pay, I'll take,” said Palencia, who arrived in New York three weeks ago and has been staying in a hotel-cum-shelter in Jamaica, Queens. “The price doesn't matter as long as I get to work.” But no work came this day or the next.

Photographed for Gothamist, with words by Arya Sundaram.
For asylum seekers looking to work in New York, desperation meets necessity - Gothamist
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for Gothamist: For asylum seekers looking to work in New York, desperation meets necessity. by José A. Alvarado Jr.
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