Supervisors Snow and York Float Idea of Loudoun Day Labor Center

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The Washington Post is reporting that Loudoun County Supervisors Steve Snow (R-Dulles) and Scott York (I- At Large) have said that if the neighboring town of Herndon finds a new operator for its controversial day labor center who will ensure that all those served are legal workers, Loudoun County may set up its own day labor center.

This is going to cause a firestorm of a controversy in Loudoun County, but it is important to point out the issue is not clear-cut.

It is widely acknowledged that Herndon's day labor center, operated by an entity called "Project Hope and Harmony" - which is really just a committee of the local non-profit Reston Interfaith - serves primarily illegal aliens. It came into existence largely because for several years a 7-11 store at the intersection of Alabama Avenue and Elden Street had served as an informal, ad hoc hiring site which was very disruptive to the surrounding community.

The Herndon day labor center was opened in December, 2005, by the town government, against the wishes of the majority of the town's citizens.

Several months later, the citizens voted the mayor and most of the town council members out of office, with great fanfare.

After several months in office, the new town council passed an "anti-solicitation" ordinance to restrict freelance hiring on the town's streets. When the ordinance was challenged, a judge ruled the ordinance was lawful - as long as the town had an alternative for those who wished to seek employment and employees.

Ironically, the day labor center became the legal prerequisite for the anti-solicitation law.

Herndon is now seeking bids from organizations to run the day labor center when Project Hope and Harmony's contract (actually a "special exception") runs out in September. It is generally assumed the town would like to find an operator for the center who will take one additional, important step: check the legal status of all prospective workers - something Project Hope and Harmony will not do.

If such an operator is found, one might logically conclude that many of the illegal aliens currently served by the Herndon day labor center will go to the adjoining Loudoun County community of Sterling to seek work.

Within 50 yards of the Herndon day labor center is another 7-11 on Sterling Road (Rt. 606) which is already the site of some hiring solicitation activity. It appears that Loudoun Supervisors Snow and York are considering the necessity of passing an anti-solicitation law similar to Herndon's, on the assumption the illegal hiring will simply move across the street and into other areas of Loudoun County if the Herndon center becomes inhospitable to illegals.

In order for such an ordinance to pass judicial muster in Loudoun County, the supervisors apparently wish to duplicate Herndon's model of having an established day labor center which can serve as the designated, legally approved location for ad hoc hiring.

It seems inconceivable that Supervisors York and Snow would have any intention of establishing a workers' center which did not ensure all those served were legally allowed to work in the U.S. Loudoun's supervisors have, after all, been in close contact with the Herndon government to discuss the issue.

Setting up a day labor center for illegal aliens in Loudoun County would not only be a massive affront to the citizens of Sterling, it would be political suicide for any Loudoun County official who signed on to such a plan.

Assuming the Loudoun supervisors are not complete fools, but instead merely wish to replicate the end result Herndon is seeking - a day labor center that only serves legal workers - it seems appropriate that Loudoun County should pay close attention to the current RFP process in Herndon to find a new operator for the Herndon day labor center.

Longtime local resident Butch Baughan is forming a non-profit organization and is one of the applicants to run the Herndon day labor center, under the concept of a vocational education and job-pairing service for all citizens of the area. Butch can speak very eloquently about the need for job training and mentoring for disadvantaged citizens, having spent much of his career as a high school vocational teacher.

Perhaps the new operator of the Herndon workers' center could be considered to run a Loudoun County center as well?

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4 Comments

Cathy McNickle said:

This end around solution by York is baffling to me. I'd be interested to know what the tone of the "rally" in Herndon was last night

G.Stone said:

They need to VERY careful here.
It seems to me they may be advocating a solution to a probelm that is yet to exist.

Loudoun Conservative said:

How complicated! So, the only way a 'no solicitation' ordinance passes judicial muster is if the government provides a way for prospective employers / employees to meet? Does that mean that if there is a 'no loitering' ordinance then the government has to fund a skate park for bored youth?

ACTivist said:

Joe, I just don't understand how the judge said the anti-solicitation ordinance was lawful as long as the town had an alternative for those seeking employment. Isn't that what the state employment commission office does? Why would there have to be local hiring alternatives in every city, town or county to make the ordinance lawful?

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