Center to Serve Day Laborers

Arlo Wagner, Washington Times, Jan. 31

Montgomery County officials said yesterday they will open a day-laborer employment center in Wheaton, the second facility of its kind in the county where workers can meet with employers.

The 1,900-square-foot center will be located in a storefront space on the first floor of the Ambassador Apartments building, at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and University Boulevard. Officials said it will cost the county about $130,000 to renovate the space, and that they hope to open the center in late March.

“People who want to work and people who want to make a better life for their family and children should have that opportunity,” said County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, a Democrat, who announced the location of the day-laborer site.

The county will lease the space for $64,000 a year. The day-to-day operations of the work center will be contracted through CASA of Maryland Inc., which operates a similar center in Langley Park. That center opened in 1991, county officials said.

The county now provides more than $1 million in support of CASA’s programs and services and will contribute more money to the new center, officials said.

“It is time to support the immigrant community,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA of Maryland, a community organization that provides educational and advocacy services to Hispanic immigrants. “The priority number one is jobs.”

Other day-laborer centers are being planned in Gaithersburg, Prince George’s County and Baltimore, Mr. Torres said.

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Employment specialists do not determine whether applicants are in the country legally but collect basic information such as job skills, ages and addresses. Mr. Torres said the employers are responsible for legal hiring.

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