Herndon Votes For Rule Of Law
The Herndon Town Council voted last night to require that the next operator of the day labor center established by the previous council check the legal working status of those who seek employment at the site.
This vote represents a sort of closing-the-circle on the events of May, 2006, in which the citizens of Herndon established the town as America's Bunker Hill in the current struggle.
Under the new Council, Herndon has led the way on several additional initiatives designed to end the influx of illegal aliens, including becoming the first municipality to send police officers for immigration enforcement training earlier this year.
By Bob Rudine
The Herndon Town Council decided tonight that the Herndon official day labor site will have to check the legal status of the laborers who use the site. In a 6 to 1 vote after two evenings of citizen comment a resolution was passed which sets the stage for a new operator of the site.
The current operator is Project Hope and Harmony (PH&H) aka Reston Interfaith, with funding provided by Fairfax County and a site provided by the Town of Herndon. Herndon also has an anti-solicitation ordinance which prohibits employers from hiring Day Laborers anywhere else within the town. This ordinance has been upheld in a court challenge based on the existence of the formal day labor site.
The Town Council is seeking a site operator who will validate the legal status of the day laborers' right to work within the United States. Several request for proposals have gone out and they currently have one bidder on the contract. Due to the length of time it is taking to find a qualified operator, the town had to consider an extension for PH&H to operate the site until a new operator who will verify legal status can take over.
The resolution to extend the special exception has two sets of conditions governing the operation of the site. The first (Operator A) is for the continued use by PH&H until a new operator can take over. The second (Operator B) defines the conditions for the new operator. Several changes were requested by PH&H and were incorporated into the special exception including extended hours and an expansion in the number of day laborers the site is allow to have on site.
A third option is available to the council which would eliminate the site altogether if the extension is not approved. This option is not being considered since the anti-solicitation ordinance would be overturned allowing the day laborers to return to the informal day labor sites within the town.
Several amendments were offered during the council deliberations. Two amendments were discussed which would allow charitable donations to be distributed at the site for PH&H. The first would allow all charitable donations to be distributed at the site. The second would allow for food donations only to be distributed. Both amendments failed.
Harlon Reece, the only current councilmen who voted to establish the current day labor site offered an amendment to delete all reference to Operator B from the resolution. This would, in effect, eliminate the immigration status checking altogether and allow the site to operate unchanged in its current configuration. His amendment did not receive a second vote required to proceed and died.
In passing the resolution the Council explained that their oath of office required them to uphold the law and that the law could not be applied selectively. The Mayor said that the town would do anything necessary to ensure the citizens that the day laborers would not return to the streets of Herndon. Reston Interfaith was thanked for their service to the community and the town promised to work with them in their other projects within the community.
During the public testimony, 50 people spoke on the Special Exception which allowed the day labor site to operate. I think it fair to say that everyone there believed that the challenges faced by the Town are caused by the absolute failure of the federal government to enforce immigration law. The issue of what the town can and cannot do is still being debated.
The supporters of the current site claim that the current site operator provides the best solution for the town by removing the day laborers from the streets of Herndon. They are still gathering all around town, and have been since the formal site opened, due to a lack of employers using the formal site. Photos of the 7-11 at Elden and Alabama and other informal sites in Northern Virginia were shown to support their claim. Photos were shown which clearly show day laborers congregating in and around the former informal site. The reality is that street solicitation was curtailed by vigorous enforcement by the Herndon Police of the anti-solicitation law after it was upheld in court.
The supporters of Operator B with legal status checking of day laborers support the notion that current site supports illegal aliens and the town would be better off without the site. The town councilâ€™s approach was supported by most of these speakers, recognizing the importance of the anti-solicitation enforcement program to the town. Clearly they believe that this is the best compromise available at this time. One speaker requested that the Town consider adoption of an alternative version of the anti-solicitation law used by some localities which does not require a formal site in order to withstand legal challenge. The notion that the day labor site is a temporary solution was mentioned by several of the speakers including one recommendation to eliminate the annual renewal provisions in the special exception. Residents, from the adjacent county of Loudoun, expressed their concerns regarding the possibility of day laborers establishing an informal site just inside their county if this plan were adopted.
Several residents requested that the council not renew the extension which would close the site outright.
Law suits against the town were expressed or implied by some of the speakers against the anti-solicitation ordinance and Operator B if the current plans were implemented.
Other issues discussed by the speakers included the use of the site as a location to distribute charitable contributions of food and clothes which is the current practice. Crime statics were presented showing the percentage of crimes committed by Hispanics was increasing when compared with non-Hispanics. Since the police do not collect data regarding legal status of criminals, the extent and impact of illegal aliens on crime is still subject to some conjecture and debate. Overcrowded housing was also mentioned by some speakers even though the extension does not address this issue specifically.
In related news, the pro-illegal national Republican Party has firmly established itself as the entity we cannot defund quickly enough. IF you are still receiving solicitations from the Republican Party, AND you still have any telephone books left in your house, you know what to do.
Bricks will suffice in a pinch.
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