Counties Defend CASA Pickets

Keyonna Summers, Washington Times, April 17, 2006

Officials with Montgomery and Prince George’s counties say the taxpayer-funded CASA of Maryland advocacy group has a constitutional right to picket outside the homes and businesses of members of the Minutemen, a group that photographs employers hiring day laborers and illegal aliens.

“What’s good for the Minutemen is good for the laborers,” said Prince George’s County Councilman Will Campos, a Democrat. “Let’s face it—don’t get mad because somebody’s doing the same thing you’re doing.”

CASA officials say that they are just reacting to “provocation” by the Minutemen and that the picketing protests would be like those staged in front of the homes of employers who don’t pay laborers.

“It’s proven to be an effective way of bringing publicity and ensuring that people pay their wages,” said Peter Shiras, who is on CASA’s board of directors. “This was not something that was instigated by us [and] I don’t think CASA is trying to pick a fight here.”

CASA is also training legal observers who would document but not protest the activities of the Minutemen while they monitor the day laborers in Maryland.

Mr. Shiras said there’s a “big difference” between the Minutemen, who he says are trying to intimidate CASA employees, and CASA, which is trying to “bring publicity” to the Minutemen’s actions.

Spokesmen for Montgomery and Prince George’s counties said the actions of CASA employees and volunteers are independent of the county’s views. They also say that CASA is an independent contractor and that county funds do not support its monitoring activities.

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