The city of Manassas adopted an ordinance this week that has painted the peddler picture crystal clear: People who are there illegally can't do it.
Last summer, several residents brought questions to council concerning the legal status of peddlers and the health
requirements they must follow. After nearly a year of deliberating on a new ordinance, council approved a measure Wednesday that allows peddling on city streets while upgrading the requirements to do so.
Peddlers will now have to have photo permits on them at all times and must be properly insured for the use of any vehicle, whether a truck, van or push cart. The city will also perform state and local criminal background checks before issuing a permit.
Needless to say, these restrictions or pretty onerous. Insurance for a push cart? Criminal background checks to sell hotdogs on a street corner?
The Town of Herndon announced yesterday that it would close its 21-month-old day-laborer center next week instead of complying with a judge's ruling that the site must be open to all residents, including those who might be illegal immigrants.
The decision to close the site, which became a flash point in the national debate over immigration, was reached late Tuesday by Mayor Stephen J. DeBenedittis and the six-member Town Council after a 2 1/2 -hour closed-door session. It brings the western Fairfax community virtually full circle in its attempts to regulate — critics say drive out — its large population of Latino day laborers. The center was established in late 2005 as an alternative to the streets for laborers and prospective employers to come to terms.
The day-laborer center was created because the town outlawed solicitation of work in public places. By providing a regulated alternative to laborers seeking work, Herndon hoped to clear up its illegal immigrant problem and avoid First Amendment problems. It didn't work:
At issue was an ordinance the council approved in 2005 as a legal companion to the day-laborer center, barring workers and motorists from striking deals for employment on the streets. The courts have generally required that communities barring public solicitation for work — a form of speech — must provide an alternative venue for that speech, such as a hiring site.
The town's plan began to collapse last year when a Reston man, Stephen A. Thomas, ticketed for hiring a laborer in the parking lot of the Elden Street 7-Eleven, challenged the law on First Amendment grounds.
A district court found in favor of the town, but Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Leslie Alden ruled for Thomas on Aug. 29. Alden said the anti-solicitation ordinance fell short not only on First Amendment grounds but also under the equal protection requirements of the 14th Amendment. She said the Herndon center was not sufficient to make up for the ban on job solicitation because the town intended to bar illegal immigrants from the site. Alden said the Supreme Court has ruled that the equal protection provision applies to noncitizens as well.
Alden's ruling left DeBenedittis and the Town Council in a dilemma. An appeal could take months, even years. With no one available to operate the center according to its wishes, the town would have to take over the facility. But to preserve the anti-solicitation ordinance, the town would have to open the center to those who might be in the country illegally — violating a core campaign promise.
The site was shut down. Ironically, the center which was supposed to be a tool for fighting illegal immigration, became a symbol for those who supported the illegals. As with the Manassas measures, accusations of racism and bigotry abounded.
Now that the day-laborer center was gone, and the anti-solicitation ordinance being deemed unconstitutional, Herndon was back at square one. So what do they do?:
Town attorney Richard Kaufman has told the council that an anti-loitering bill adopted by the Virginia General Assembly would be unconstitutional. Instead, he says lawmakers should ask the legislature next year to make changes to the law that would make it constitutional ...
Meanwhile, council members are looking at proposals to limit the sale of alcoholic beverages in the area and rid the area of public pay phones.
It seems that the only way local communities can deal with illegals is to trample upon the rights of everyone else. Ridiculously invasive laws designed to undercut the perceived lifestyle and work habits of illegals end up costing legal citizens in terms of freedom. Street vendors are forced to have criminal background checks completed, and businesses are forced to close, move or never even open because illegals might congregate in the area. And to top it all off, any moves made to crack down on illegals are vociferously derided as racist. Why isn't that ever thrown into the calculus of what illegal immigration costs Americans?
Another thing I don't understand is why ICE isn't just walking up to these hangouts and doing some basic investigation. If it's essentially only illegal immigrants who congregate there, doesn't that make a target rich environment for doing their jobs? And going after the businesses that hire them would seem to be easier as well, seeing as their all in one place. Instead, local communities are left to deal with these things on their own, and all too often those methods include issuing draconian ordinances that grant the state entirely too much purview over people's lives. The Constitution explicitly grants the power to control and enforce the immigration laws for this country to the federal government. I would suggest they start using it.
The bottom line is that, in addition to whatever financial costs illegal immigrants cause American citizens, the fundamental abdication by the federal government of its duties in this arena are costing them freedom as well. You know, the very thing that the feds are supposed to guarantee?
The ordinances HAVE to be that way. I can’t make an ordinance that applies only to swarthy street vendors or day labourers. So to limit illegal immigrants, something that as you point out is a FEDERAL mission, the locals must use the tools that they have. As they can’t address immigration per se the only thing they can address "home rule" issues, health, safety, and public morals. All they can do is address immigration thru business licenses and the like, and to be legal/constitutional they have to address ALL people and businesses, of a like class. They’re trying to build a house, with plumbers tools, you can do it, but it isn’t as efficient. Sadly the Fed’s for reasons of politics are NOT doing their job, forcing localities to address the issue with the tools at hand, even if they are not ideal for addressing the issue.
Uh, yeah, I know. I thought I made that point pretty clearly, but I guess not.
I used the have this same problem with Prof. Ribstein, where I would answer a question, he would tell me I’m wrong, and make the same point I just did. My classmates would just bow their heads in silent laughter at my predicament, but it was pretty exasperating ... um, anyway .... [/flashback]
I agree that local jurisdictions are ill-suited to tackle illegal immigration.
I understand your larger point, I just thought you were complaining about the liberty thing...it’s just the nature of this beast. There ARE ways of doing this locally that aren’t as onerous, though...make E-verify a condition for a business license, skip the insurance thingee...for example. Day labour is harder to police, I mean it’s a taxation issue to, the locals AND the IRS ought to be interested, local license and occupation taxes as well as FEDERAL taxes. So, E-verify ought to be in use there too, but on contract labour under $600 you don’t have to file taxes, how do you enforce that at a reasonable cost?
ICE is a joke. If they really wanted to do their job, they don’t have to look very hard. In Brooklyn you can easily find the corners where day-laborers hang out waiting to be picked up, easily meaning you don’t even have to try. I can only imagine it’s the same situation in most major urban areas.
Hard issue for a libertarian. Everyone is saying just goto the place the illegals hangout and round them up. However, that would mean that you want people to be stopped and asked for their papers for no reason other then standing around.
I can’t stand the DWI roadblocks that everyone has to show their papers to get thru for no reason other then they are driving down the road. I sure don’t want to have to prove who I am just to say high to a friend in a parking lot or corner.
I sure don’t want to have to prove who I am just to say high to a friend in a parking lot or corner.
That’s a bit extreme though. We’re talking about groups of 4 or 5 people, loitering on a corner, obviously not greeting each other, and paying an inordinate amount of attention to any van or truck that slows down near them. There is enough behavior difference between that and you greeting your friend to make a distinction between the two cases. They could easily set up stings for the ’employers’ by emulating this pattern.
I agree, it is a hard issue to look at through libertarian ideals.
Your post is simply pointing out the obvious—to thoroughly crack down on "illegal immigration" requires a police state, and that would only drive it further underground and increase corruption exponentially.
People come here because they can prosper here much better than they can in their native countries. Legal barriers may make it difficult, and just like drug prohibition encourage the growth of criminality and corruption, but they can never stop it in any meaningful way, as long as the standard of living in the US is significantly better than the standard of living in Central America. There are only two ways to "solve" the problem of illegal immigration: raise the standard of living in Central America to something much closer to that of the USA, or lower the standard of living in the USA to something much closer to that of Central America. Which do you prefer? (The current political system seems determined to bring about the second alternative, I have to admit.)
I may be pointing out the obvious, but it’s significant nonetheless. When enough regular folk (as opposed to political junkies and policy wonks) recognize the actual costs to their everyday lives from illegal immigration, the pressure will mount "to do something." As we both know, that’s already happened to some degree.
However, thusfar the political approach is tossed between open border types shouting racism, and the closed border types screaming for a wall. Those stuck in the middle actually doing anything are left with few choices. What I’m suggesting is that we at least start with the ICE do it’s fvck!ng job and tossing out those who come here illegally. That would at least alleviate the pressure on local communities to lance boils with ... um, a lance.
Of course, you are absolutely correct as to the root cause of the problem — i.e. the abysmal conditions of Central America. But "fixing" that is awfully problematic, for starters, and it’s not entirely clear to most people why it should be our problem in the first place. Why don’t these people care enough to fix their own country? Why is it always up to the US to "fix" (i.e. shovel gobs more money to) other countries? And how does that really help?
That being said, one thing that we could fix is immigration law. It’s is entirely too complicated and expensive for people to emigrate here. There may even be room for seasonal work visas, provided the temporary workers are properly vetted, pay their taxes, and exit the country when their supposed to. Eliminate the "anchor baby" loop-hole and suspend any minimum wage laws with respect to such temp workers and the problems could probably be brought under control. In the very least, such measures might relieve the pressure to "do something" that local legislators respond to by limiting our liberties.
Some specific comments from someone who visits Herndon, VA frequently.
The day laborer site was created by a socially permissive liberal town council in Herndon to address people congregating by the corner of Elden Street and Alabama Drive, also known as "the 7-11 parking lot". The theory was that they’re going to congregate anyway so we might as well not leave them out in the cold/rain/whatever, give them bathrooms, and keep them out of sight. A former police facility off of Old Ox Road was selected. The site was never supposed to be a way to fight illegal immigration, just a way to clean up the public eyesore of having the illegals outside on a major road.
Problem is, this facility was in the midst of several upscale residential neighborhoods, and was a non-trivial distance away from the aforementioned parking lot. Given the significant crime increase in the vicinity of the 7-11 and the constant police presence that resulted, the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods felt that a daily flow of pedestrian traffic through their yards as the direct route to the day laborer center was a direct physical threat to their safety.
The town of Herndon experienced a nearly complete reversal of direction at the next election in 2006, as the most vocal defenders of the site were given the boot. The issue was that since it is illegal for anyone to hire an illegal alien for work - a state law - then a day laborer site is taxpayer funds to support or facilitate breaking the law.
Everyone knows that Herndon has a massive 40% immigrant presence, far above the average for Northern Virginia. Most who are familiar with the area know that the section of Elden Street between the toll road and the Fuddruckers is an area to drive cautiously, since massive jaywalking by specific segments of the population is the norm. It is so much the norm that a current joke is to call the act of going out of your way to avoid designated crosswalks and crossing the road in an idiotic and dangerous fashion a "For’n crossing".