Monday, July 03, 2006

Vigilante Victory: The Minutemen Shut Down Illegal Alien Day Labor Center

My last post on immigration looked at California as a top destination for immigrants the world over, and the point of that entry was to illustrate how well the legal immigration process works for those who follow the rules. Today's post continues our series on illegal immgration at Burkean Reflections. It turns out that a local Minuteman member used obscure state property maps to show that a Laguna Beach day laborer hiring area was in violation of state law, as this Los Angeles Times article details:

Caltrans ordered a longtime Laguna Beach day labor center to close Friday, saying it was illegally operating on state property, land that the state didn't even know it owned. The state Department of Transportation issued the order after a Laguna Beach resident who is a member of the Minuteman Project border patrol group checked property records and brought the information forward as part of a protest against the center. "What they were doing on that property is illegal, and it wasn't done to benefit Americans," said Eileen Garcia, the Minuteman member. "If the Girl Scouts of America had set up pup tents there, they would have been run off a long time ago." This is the second day labor center in Orange County to close recently. Costa Mesa closed its center last year as its City Council took several measures to limit services to its burgeoning immigrant population. The centers and other areas where day laborers gather informally have been targeted for protests by anti-illegal immigrant groups throughout Southern California. The Laguna Day Worker Center on Laguna Canyon Road opened nearly seven years ago and received about $25,000 annually from the city. State officials said the order to close the center had nothing to do with immigration politics. "There's a concern about public safety and liability," said James Pinheiro, Caltrans deputy director of traffic operations and maintenance. "We knew the center was there. We didn't know it was on our property." Garcia, who has protested near the worker center with hundreds of others on several occasions in the last year, said she decided earlier this week to check maps at the Irvine Caltrans office. Officials who helped her find the materials were surprised when they found a deed showing that the Irvine Co. had given the one-third-acre parcel to the state in 1951. Pinheiro said state law does not allow use of the property for anything other than "to facilitate the state highway. "No permits were issued to put a mobile office or fences on the site, he said. The office is owned by the Cross Cultural Council, a nonprofit organization. Irma Ronses, coordinator of the day laborer center, said her group received permission from the city to set up the office but at some point learned the property belonged to the state. Laguna Beach City Manager Kenneth C. Frank did not return repeated phone calls. Assistant City Manager John Pietig declined to comment.
This story brilliantly illustrates Tip O'Neill's famous quote that "all politics is local." As Congress remains stymied on the passage of comprehensive immigration reform, groups at the state and local level around the country are having an impact. For some of my previous post on illegal immigration, click here, here, here, and here.

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