Herndon eyes ban on illegals at labor center

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Herndon officials are considering proposals that would bar Illegal aliens from using the town”s day-laborer center.

The town has received two proposals for a new day-laborer site that would check workers” immigration status, Herndon spokeswoman Anne Curtis said.

The new site would replace the Herndon Official Workers Center, which is run by the Project Hope & Harmony group and does not mandate legal status.

An internal staff committee led by the town manager must evaluate the proposals and determine whether to bring one before the full Town Council, Ms. Curtis said.

Town officials in January issued an official request for a new site operator that would check for worker eligibility, she said.

Ms. Curtis declined to name the people or agencies that submitted the proposals and said an evaluation timeline has not been established.

A founding member of HelpSaveHerndon, which was organized in opposition to the center and its perceived assistance of illegal aliens, said he submitted one of the proposals. The center is partially funded by taxpayers.

Herndon resident Dennis “Butch” Baughan said he envisions a center that could be used by high-school dropouts, juvenile offenders, unemployment agencies and special-needs groups.

“I want to take the concept of a day-labor site and make it a true community site … as opposed to the center as it”s set up now,” Mr. Baughan said. “It”s all about one population. To me, that”s unfair.”

Critics of the town”s plan to begin monitoring workers” immigration status say that laborers will be forced back to seeking work on the street or convenience-store parking lots — the main reason the center was opened in December 2005.

Town Council member J. Harlon Reece, the only member to vote against issuing a request for proposals, told the Herndon Connection newspaper that forcing workers onto the streets would lead to more legal challenges against the town”s anti-solicitation ordinance, passed in 2005 before the day-labor center opened.

Fairfax County General District Court upheld the constitutionality of the anti-solicitation ordinance in March, after a Reston man challenged it on free-speech grounds, the Connection reported.

HelpSaveHerndon co-founder Aubrey Stokes called such claims “fear-mongering among those who would seek to provide services to illegal aliens.”

“There”s a different atmosphere in Herndon now,” Mr. Stokes said. “The townspeople have come to see that people who are here illegally are not an asset to either the businesses, the neighborhoods or the town as a whole, and I feel that they”re going to take the appropriate response.”

Herndon police recently became the first locality in the region to complete federal training in immigration-enforcement procedures.

Voters did not re-elect some town officials who supported the opening of the center.

Officials with the center could not be reached, but Bill Threlkeld of Project Hope & Harmony told the Connection that he”s not surprised that somebody who opposes the day-labor center would submit such a proposal.

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