Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
About this Blog   |   On Twitter   |   Follow us on Facebook   |   RSS Feeds RSS Feed
Posted at 2:10 PM ET, 01/ 4/2011

Immigrant advocates press for repeal of Herndon day labor law

By Christy Goodman

Social justice and immigration advocates joined with some Herndon residents Tuesday morning to ask the Herndon Town Council to rescind an ordinance they say violates day laborers' civil rights.

The anti-solicitation ordinance prohibits people standing on town roads to communicate to drivers that they are looking for work, distribute pamphlets or ask for contributions.

The council is scheduled to discuss the ordinance in closed session Tuesday night.

Specifically forbidding people to tell drivers they are looking for work instead of outlawing all communication is a violation of a person's First Amendment rights, said Anita Sinha, an attorney with Advancement Project, which has filed lawsuits in similar cases in the past.

Herndon resident Nancy Ramirez said, through a translator, the ordinance is "discriminatory for everyone who lives in the town of Herndon."

"Rescind this ordinance. In the last election I voted for this kind of change, but it seems the council members are forgetting that commitment to us," said Ramirez, a U.S. citizen and six-year town resident.

Herndon's involvement in the illegal immigration debate has quieted recently. But in the past, the town adopted English as its official language; trained local police officers to detain illegal immigrants under the federal 287(g) program; and opened and closed an organized day laborer center in 21 months.

The original anti-solicitation ordinance was struck down by Fairfax County Circuit Court in 2007 for not giving alternatives to free speech, Sinha said.

She said a draft of the current ordinance included an intent statement that said it was designed to remove "visual blight" of day laborers, which she contended violates the 14th Amendment, or the Equal Protection Clause.

The most recent ordinance was passed in June, shortly after the May elections, in which four candidates who took a more pro-immigrant position were elected. Two of the incumbent council members who were against the center lost the election and the other two did not seek reelection.

"They were elected under the premise there would be changes," said Julius Bradley, a Herndon resident. But Bradley said he hasn't seem any.

"They've been sitting on their hands for six months," said Jon Liss, executive director of Virginia New Majority, an organization working to put pressure on the council to rescind the law.

But Bill Campenni, a member of the anti-illegal immigration group Help Save Herndon and a supporter of the law, said, "The day laborer problem has been significantly reduced" due to this and other town laws.

He described the town as "overrun" and "a sanctuary for day laborers" in the past. The laws "control the problem so it doesn't happen again," he said.

Campenni said he thinks the ordinance's wording applies to everyone and that most people in town support it.

If the Herndon Town Council decides to take action on the issue after Tuesday night's discussion, it would be scheduled for a public hearing on Jan. 25 at the earliest, said Anne P. Curtis, a town spokeswoman.

UPDATE, 2:40 p.m.
Herndon Mayor Stephen J. DeBenedittis said, "I'm fine with it as it is. If I thought there was anything wrong with it, I wouldn't have voted for it before."

He said the ordinance "is based on state law, which I don't think would have passed if there was a Constitutional issue there."

The law applies to everyone and targets safety where streets are the busiest, he said. The council is discussing the issue because of community concerns and is "not motivated by outside interest groups or threats," DeBenedittis said.

This post has been modified since it was first published.

By Christy Goodman  | January 4, 2011; 2:10 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: McDonnell flies to New York to make pitch to bond agencies
Next: Poll: Virginia tea party supporters very conservative, very white

Comments

"The council is scheduled to discuss the ordinance in closed session Tuesday night"

Well, doesn't that make you feel good and fuzzy about your elected officials.

I'd personally like it if the elected officials said it was OK for the police to deputize and arm the citizenry to catch and shoot illegals.

Boy, THAT is the good ol' USA...not this namby pamby BS nation we've become....oooooo...mustn't offend now, right???

Posted by: stinkyliberals | January 4, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"The council is scheduled to discuss the ordinance in closed session Tuesday night"

Well, doesn't that make you feel good and fuzzy about your elected officials.

I'd personally like it if the elected officials said it was OK for the police to deputize and arm the citizenry to catch and shoot illegals.

Boy, THAT is the good ol' USA...not this namby pamby BS nation we've become....oooooo...mustn't offend now, right???

Posted by: stinkyliberals | January 4, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

At the height of day labor we had gang crime in Herndon. Does anyone remember the MS-13 killing on the O&D trail near Fortnightly Library?
Herndon should go further and require citizens to carry and provide proof of citizenship - heck, the entire nation should adopt tougher laws, then we can round up illegals, send them to thier native countries and tell them to FIX THEIR BROKEN COUNTRIES AND STOP COMING HERE TO BREAK AMERICA!

Do not advocate shooting anyone. The Az sheriff has it right. Pink jumpsuits, outside/tent city instead of wasting jail housing (like our troops)and hold them until their native governments pay the cost to ship them back. No pay - then they can sit in tent city, Az for infinatum.
Food? Rice and water 2x daily and 4 oz meat weekly. No gym or weights but they can have a futballs to pass the time.

Posted by: tenthduf | January 4, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

The people Ramirez voted for did NOT win the last election - that is why nothing changed. Simply put there are more voting against illegal immigrants than supporters of Ramierz's position (in Herndon.)

Posted by: tenthduf | January 4, 2011 4:04 PM | Report abuse

How can something be ""discriminatory for EVERYONE who lives in the town"?

Posted by: Jonathan75 | January 4, 2011 4:47 PM | Report abuse

How can something be "discriminatory for EVERYONE who lives in the town"?

Posted by: Jonathan75 | January 4, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

How can something be "discriminatory for EVERYONE who lives in the town"?

Posted by: Jonathan75 | January 4, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

By entering this country without authorization illegal immigrants thumb their nose at America. Then, when they are here, they want to embrace American law to get what they want. If American law does not confirm to their wishes, they want to change it. Wonderful.

Posted by: jeffreed | January 4, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

A quick article like this raises more questions, distorts a bit, and leaves a lot of information out. Typically, this town issue is condensed into a popular “pro-” and “anti-immigration” parlance. The press picks up on anything labeled “immigrant issue”.

At least in part, the Virginia New Majority (VNM) group is using the Town to advance VNM’s stature as an advocacy group.
Those who opposed having an organized day labor center earlier in this decade are using the presence of the VNM to keep alive their opposition to day laborers in town.
The contentious situation created by these factions makes the news because it is an “immigrant” or “freedom of speech” issue.

In fact, the old day labor center was legally operated and it worked. The anti-solicitation ordinance enacted WITH the day labor center worked because the Center existed. It wasn’t really a “free speech” issue – the Center was a place to connect workers and those who needed short-term day labor. Without the Center, the Anti-solicitation ordinance that worked was invalidated.

Today’s “(anti) street solicitation ordinance” applies to everyone, though the original expressed intent was another way to “combat the day laborer problem”. In fact, day laborers are not IN the street and the current ordinance is redundant and unnecessary.

This comment leaves a lot out, also, but the June 2010 ordinance in question does not eliminate day laborers. The ordinance DOES eliminate high school club car washes (advertised on street corners by kids—usually cute girls), Fire Department folks on the street soliciting donations, and similar efforts.

Posted by: AnnDe | January 4, 2011 10:01 PM | Report abuse

I hope the Town Council thinks long and hard about repealing this law.

And before they do, all council members should be REQUIRED to pull into the Shell gas station on Elden Street, entering from Alabama Drive through the 7-11 parking area, between the hours of 7am and 3 pm.

Please be warned: If you hit a day laborer, you'll probably be sued and lose everything you own. Keep your eyes straight ahead. Do not look at out a window (and try not hitting one of them without looking at them).

Go ahead. Try it. I double-dog dare them.

Posted by: MSinVA | January 5, 2011 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company