Unless he’s on a job, Paul Lopez, a teacher by trade, heads to a 7-Eleven parking lot in Herndon a couple of times a week to wait for work. He was there Friday morning, dressed in paint-stained cargo pants, a shirt, a light jacket and a Washington Redskins cap.
Lopez, who is from Bolivia, said he lives in the United States because he can make “20 times” as much money painting and doing day-labor jobs as he earned in Bolivia teaching elementary, middle and high school. His family remains in Bolivia.
Workers have been a little uneasy coming to the 7-Eleven since day-laborer sites became politically controversial. But for many laborers, that unease has reached a new level.
Representatives of the Herndon chapter of the Minuteman Project, a national group that fights illegal immigration, began showing up last week at the site. On three mornings, including Friday, Minuteman members arrived about 6 a.m. with video and still cameras and walkie-talkies to document the activities of Lopez and other day laborers as well as the employers hiring them.
George Taplin of Herndon, leader of the local chapter of the Arizona-based organization, said the group plans to turn over its data to the Internal Revenue Service, perhaps as early as this week, so the IRS can check whether the employers are complying with tax regulations and reporting the wages paid to the day laborers.
“We are targeting the employers to stop hiring day laborers so we don’t have them gathering in Herndon,” he said. “If the employers stop coming and there is no work, they will have to go away. . . What we want, bottom line in Herndon, is for the illegal aliens to leave. And if there is no work, they will.”
“We accomplished more than we set out to do,” Taplin said. “The main thing we wanted to do is start building our database with images of the different workers and employers. We also wanted to prove what most people thought, and what we had put forth—this idea that the vast majority of the people who were there were illegal and the employers were regular employers, not people who came every once in a while looking for workers.”