Hundreds of emotional and angry residents flooded Herndon’s municipal center last night over what is growing into a divisive and volatile issue for the region: using tax dollars to establish official day laborer sites.
More than 250 people showed up for a planning commission hearing on the matter, filling the main chambers and spilling into an overflow room where the proceedings could be watched on a television. At one point, more than 50 people crowded the hallways, trying to catch a glimpse of what was happening inside the auditorium.
The planning commission took no action and scheduled another hearing for Aug. 1.
Several people marched outside, waving placards that read, “No Day Laborer Site” and “No $$ for Hiring Hall.” Others spoke heatedly against establishing an official day laborer site, saying it would draw more illegal immigrants to the area.
But proponents of the plan accused the protesters of racism and contended that the town needs to reach out to and work with the more than 100 immigrants who gather informally outside a 7-Eleven in downtown Herndon every day.
But David Kirby, a Herndon resident, said he didn’t want public money to be spent on a site that draws some illegal immigrants. “At the 7-Eleven, it’s an eyesore,” he said. “[The workers] are drinking, they are urinating in public, they [are] cat-calling to the women. Not too many people go to that 7-Eleven anymore . . . and now they want to put that in a residential part of town.”
Several people said in public comments that they worried that the day workers would lower property values and would bring gang violence and diseases. Others accused those protesters of being racist.