Grappling With Two Problems

The Town of Herndon is ground zero for two intertwined debates, one local, one national.

The local debate is over a proposal to create a site where day laborers, predominately Hispanic, can gather for the purpose of getting hired to work for contractors and individuals. These laborers are currently mingling at a 7-11 in the town, creating something of a nuisance.

The national debate is over illegal immigration. Part of the opposition to the planned location argues that a government funded meet-up location is tacitly encouraging illegal immigration.

I know the slogan says “think globally, act locally,” but in this case I think those fighting the illegal immigration problem by fighting a gathering location is misguided. Defeating a meet-up location won’t make a dent in the national illegal immigration problem, but establishing a designated place will do a lot for local orderliness.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has a news story on the controversy; the Washington Post had an editorial supporting the meet-up location.

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  1. Amen, Will!

    It’s mostly true that US immigration policies don’t affect illegal immigration.

    However, there are exceptions. For example, when the Bush administration floated an amnesty plan last year, illegal immigration spiked in a huge way. Everyone was trying to get into the US before they missed their chance for amnesty.

    Of course, the plan was never enacted. But it still goes to show that sometimes US policy does encourage illegal immigration.

    You’re right though – giving day laborers a place to meet in Virginia, however, doesn’t encourage anything.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    We need to have a way to make immigrants legal that works. Then they can fill the gap in the middle of our population, pay social security to support us in old age, and start being part of the solution instead of the problem.

  3. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    If there is a single meeting place then the INS agents can go to one place instead of many to arrest and deport the ILLEGAL aliens.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    A group of us are having trouble finding enough people for a good game of poker, and we could also use a free place to hang out when we play, with facilities and maybe someone serving beverages.

    If we start harassing motorists pulling into the local grocery stores, do you think some government might spend a few hundred thousand dollars to give us a place to play and meet other players?

    Or would they arrest us for disorderly conduct?

    I suppose a large component of the opposition is based on illegals getting work. But mixed into the opposition are those who simply don’t think it is the government’s job to reward unsocial behavior, or to facilitate rich builder-doners find cheap labor they can exploit on a daily basis.

    And even for those who think in principle that the taxpayers SHOULD subsidies these fat-cats, what happens when hundreds of workers have to come miles away from where they live, and they sit in the nice little room for a few hours before realising that today isn’t the day they get money to feed their family.

    Are they going to wander the streets of the surrounding neighborhoods looking for other ways to make money.

    And for those of you who think I just said they would steal, I MEAN they would knock and doors and seek employment, and shame on you for thinking they would do otherwise.

    Will the people in these communities feel safe letting their children run free? Or will they be locking their doors and shutting their curtains and hoping nothing bad happens?

    I reject the Washington Post’s editorial’s binary logic that either we let them harass people at the 7-11 or give them a better place to harass people. I think we arrest them for harassing people and force the builders and other employers to spend the money all the other businesses have to spend to attract and employ people.

  5. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Good points, anonymous 11:55.

    Local government does things all the time that benefit only a small sliver of the population. I thought this center was at least as useful an expenditure as many others I’ve seen.

    That said, I tried to imagine some fee that could be imposed on those who would benefit from this service. The fee would go to pay back the investment and sustain it. I couldn’t develop one on the fly that wouldn’t end up encouraging a return to the current flawed system.

  6. I applaud the mayor for having the courage to take on this problem in a responsible way. Setting up the center will give these workers a central location to use to get jobs, give them the ability to learn English and other skills to help integrate them and their families into the area, and take away the potential public nuisance of having a bunch of guys hanging around a parking lot with nothing to do until someone shows up with work to do.

    I know some people are going to complain that we are encouraging illegal immigration. But the reality is that these workers are here, we are not going to have mass deportations, and they are doing alot of work (for a cheap price) that is part of our areas economy.

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