Center Staff Won’t Check Legal Status of Laborers

Christina Bellantoni, Washington Times, Aug. 19

The staff at a newly approved day laborer center in Herndon will not check the immigration status of the workers who use the facility, town officials said yesterday.

Herndon Mayor Michael O’Reilly, a proponent of the center, said organizers who sought the town’s approval for establishing such a center told officials it was not their job to check the workers’ legal status.

“The applicant said it was not their job and that they didn’t have the capacity to enforce federal immigration law,” Mr. O’Reilly said yesterday. “It was clear they will not be checking legal documentation.”

The Town Council Wednesday night voted 5-2 to establish a formal day labor site that would replace the ad hoc site at a local 7-Eleven where workers now gather and cause problems for passers-by and merchants.

The council did not approve spending any taxpayer money for the site.

But, Project Hope and Harmony, a group of churches and community leaders who sought the town’s approval for the center, is seeking a grant from Fairfax County to help pay for the staff that will oversee about 150 laborers. It is not known whether the group will receive any funds from the county.

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Such use of public money has angered the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and Judicial Watch, which is threatening to sue Herndon.

“Essentially no governmental body has the right to use taxpayer funds for illegal purposes,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a nonprofit, public interest law firm. “They are facilitating the illegal hiring of illegal aliens.”

Mr. Fitton said because the day labor center will be housed in a trailer on town property—on the site of a now defunct police station—it amounts to a taxpayer subsidy of the center.

However, Project Hope and Harmony volunteers would pay rent for the trailer and its trash bill.

Mike Hethmon, staff counsel for FAIR, said gangs and housing problems with illegal aliens are “creeping anarchy” and are “all symptoms of the same crisis.”

“The issues that Herndon is dealing with are the same issues that folks are dealing with around the rest of the country because of the failure of the present presidential administration to deal with the problem,” he said.

Virginia lawmakers who oppose the center have asked state Attorney General Judith W. Jagdmann, a Republican, to interpret whether Herndon is violating a new state law that denies illegal aliens state and local public benefits. The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, requires state and local governments to verify the legal presence of an applicant seeking nonemergency public benefits.

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Read the rest of this story here.

Day Labor Center Faces a Fight From Loudoun Officials

Lisa Rein and Aymar Jean, Washington Post, Aug. 19

As organizers pledged to open Herndon’s site for day laborers by November, angry officials in neighboring Loudoun County threatened yesterday to use zoning laws to block the town’s decision to build it.

Two Loudoun supervisors whose residential districts abut the hiring center—which was approved Wednesday night by the Herndon Town Council—accused Herndon leaders of circumventing them in a decision that they said will affect their constituents. The 12-acre property on Rock Hill Road where Latino workers will wait for construction jobs sits along the town-county border.

“All they did was take the problem from downtown Herndon and put it in Loudoun,” Supervisor Stephen J. Snow (R-Dulles) said, referring to the unruly gathering of workers each day at a 7-Eleven that the town hopes to replace with a formal, carefully monitored site. “We feel there was not adequate cooperation and coordination” from the Town Council, he said.

Snow and Supervisor Eugene A. Delgaudio (R-Sterling) said yesterday that they believe their nine-member board would oppose the site if it were to come to them for a vote.

The site, at Rock Hill and Sterling roads, is flanked by townhouse developments.

Several dozen Loudoun residents testified against a designated gathering spot during two nights of hearings this week. The Town Council voted 5 to 2 to approve the site and use $175,000 in public money to create it.

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But the pledge did not placate Loudoun officials, who said they are reviewing the permit approved by Herndon to determine whether the site needs zoning approval from the county. Loudoun Zoning Administrator Melinda Artman has said that using the property for a day laborer center would require a county permit.

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Virginia gubernatorial candidate Jerry W. Kilgore (R) jumped into the debate over day laborers this month, saying he opposes public funding for any activity that would help people in the United States illegally. His campaign reiterated those concerns yesterday in response to the Herndon decision.

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Read the rest of this story here.

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