As the economy has continued to sag, many residents and business owners have simply chosen to do the work themselves, mowing their own lawns or doing their own repairs. As such, many of the day laborers, both legal and illegal, have left.
The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that the illegal population declined 11 percent through May 2008. And a study in May 2009 found that immigrant unemployment for the first quarter of 2009 was 9.7 percent, the highest level since 1994 when data collection began.
Based on data collected by the Census Bureau, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that unauthorized immigrants are 4 percent of the nation's population and 5.4 percent of its workforce.
Another analysis by Pew showed that unemployment rate for foreign-born Hispanics increased from 5.1% to 8.0%, or by 2.9 percentage points, from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2008.
During this same time period, the unemployment rate for all persons in the labor market increased from 4.6% to 6.6%, or by 2.0 percentage points.
Among immigrant Latinos, the share of the working-age population (16 and older) that is employed fell by 2.8 percentage points, from 67.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007 to 64.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. Among all persons of working age, the employment rate decreased by 1.6 percentage points, from 63.2 percent to 61.6 percent, in the first year of the recession.
Among Hispanic immigrants who send money to family members in their home countries, 71 percent say they sent less in the past year than in the year prior, the Center found.
Meanwhile, Sister Margaret wants Congress to pass new immigration laws that will offer immigrants a level playing field, allowing them to get working papers. And when the economy improves and the laborers return, she'd like to have a work link center where prospective employers can register for workers.