Day-Labor Divide

Peggy Lowe, Orange County Register (Santa Ana), May 8

LAGUNA BEACH—An anti-illegal immigration group that wants to shut down day-laborer sites targeted the Laguna Day Workers Center on Saturday, saying the people who hire the workers are breaking federal law.

For the first time at the Laguna Canyon Road site, the protesters attracted a counter-protest from a human-rights network defending the short-term workers.

The two groups, each with about three dozen people, shouted at each other for about four hours across the two-lane highway, turning the blacktop lanes into a great divide on the debate on undocumented workers. Signs on the south side of the road that read “We want our jobs back” competed for drivers’ attention with those on the other side that said “Resist racism.”

The issue of day-labor sites appears to be gaining steam, pitting illegal-immigration foes with advocates for the workers who hire out to do jobs such as construction, painting or landscaping.

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Those settling on the north side of the road, where the workers are picked up by employers, were members of the Southern California Human Rights Network, made up mostly of students from UC Riverside.

“You call someone illegal, it’s a bad message, it’s degrading, it’s demeaning,” said Chris Hernandez, 21. “Someone needs to stick up for these people. Someone needs to speak for them.”

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