Darien Man Files Complaint; Calls City’s ‘Hassle-Free Zone’ Illegal

Natasha Lee, Stamford Advocate (Conn.), Dec. 9, 2005

STAMFORD—A Darien man has filed a federal criminal complaint against the mayor and public safety director saying their authorization of “no-hassle” zones for day laborers encourages illegal immigration and violates federal immigration laws.

The complaint against Mayor Dannel Malloy and Bill Callion, director of public safety, health and welfare, was filed with the U.S. Attorney’s office Tuesday by Paul Streitz, an advocate for restricting immigration.

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In the complaint, Streitz, director of Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control, says the designated labor pickup spots located on the city’s East Side induce “illegal aliens to come into the United States and remain in the United States in violation” of federal criminal law. Violators of the federal law Streitz cites can face fines and prison terms.

The group, formed in April, aims to limit the number of illegal and legal immigrants. It has more than 250 members, Streitz said.

“This puts the mayor in an awkward position of explaining why he’s violating the laws and to serve as a warning to any other public officials that we’ll file complaints,” he said. “The state and local officials see the immigration problem as something they can eliminate if they aid illegals with ID cards and with workplaces, like ‘hassle-free’ zones. . . But all it’s done is made the problem worse and induced more illegals to come to this country.”

The zones, located near North State and Lafayette streets, and along South State Street, were created by the city four years ago to provide laborers with a safe waiting area away from traffic and to appease East Side business owners who complained the laborers were distracting customers. More than 100 laborers, usually illegal Latino immigrants, congregate their daily.

Mayor Malloy called Streitz’s complaint a publicity stunt and said the “hassle-free” zones do not violate any laws.

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Prince George’s County is aiming to join other area communities in opening a day-labor center to curb illegal aliens and others from loitering in public places. Officials plan to begin work within months, despite growing opposition to such facilities.

“Go to any 7-Eleven within a two-mile radius of Langley Park, [and] the intersections will be filled with laborers,” County Council member Will Campos said yesterday. “They’re not going to go away—especially if people are hiring them at that spot.”

Officials said the center will not check the legal status of laborers, of which Mr. Campos estimates roughly “99.9 percent” are illegal.

Such facilities have moved to the center of the debate over whether local governments should spend taxpayer money to help illegal aliens find work.

In Herndon, town officials are facing a lawsuit for using taxpayer money this past summer to fund a center for day laborers who engaged in such behavior as loitering, urinating and catcalling at women around a 7-Eleven. The center is scheduled to open Dec. 19, despite the opposition.

In Gaithersburg, city officials canceled plans this fall to open a center amid an outcry from residents who were excluded from discussions and planning.

The center in Langley Park will be run by the immigrant advocacy group CASA of Maryland and would be the first in the county and join two others in the state—in Silver Spring and Wheaton.

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Residents and merchants in the Langley Park area—like others around the region and the country—say day laborers are a nuisance and that local governments should help resolve the problem. About 40 laborers mill around outside the Langley Park shopping plaza and a nearby 7-Eleven in Montgomery County, Mr. Campos said.

Miss Propeack said the Langley Park center was proposed about three years ago and that a task force of residents and merchants were consulted.

“This is the end of a very, very long discussion,” she said. “The community has already reached an agreement. Certainly there was controversy, but the conclusion was that a new center had to be opened in Langley Park.”

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