- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Good news for Gaithersburg, Maryland: There will be no day-laborer center to spend tax dollars on illegal aliens. After 31 tries, the City Council is giving up. As council member Henry F. Marraffa Jr. put it: “It’s time for us to listen to our citizens, and our citizens don’t want this in their neighborhoods.” The last plan, a storefront at the Festival at Muddy Branch shopping center, was nixed after Rockville-based landlord Nellis Corp. pulled out citing “unanimous strong disapproval” from current tenants.

Thirty-one is literally the number of sites that city leaders tried. Every single one was shot down by residents.

Some will call this a triumph of NIMBY (not in my backyard), but this misses the larger point. Government is supposed to be representative, and residents never wanted a day-laborer site in the first place. Just as in Herndon, Va., and elsewhere, these centers are the pet projects of local liberal ideologues who don’t seem to take their constituents’ opinions into much account. Encouraged by pro-illegal alien pressure groups, prominently CASA of Maryland, they get pushed along by pliant friends on the council. Then, heed is given to area residents only belatedly, at which point city officials are taken by surprise at the resistance. They would have known that the sites are deeply unpopular if they had just bothered to ask or listen.

At least in Gaithersburg officials were wise enough to drop their plans after sensing serious opposition. Not so in Herndon earlier this year, when residents threw out one-term Mayor Michael L. O’Reilly and two Town Council members in a vote widely seen as a referendum on their tin-eared day-laborer plans.

While we’re at it, it’s also worth voicing caution over the federal legal implications of these sites, which cities and towns seem to give insufficient attention. They could end up with lawsuits or worse. For instance, Judicial Watch sued both Herndon and Fairfax on behalf of taxpayers in 2005; in August the group began its own investigation into the city of Laguna Beach, Calif. As it says: “Federal law prohibits the hiring of an undocumented worker and makes it unlawful to ‘encourage or induce an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law.’ ”

Gaithersburg has done right by its residents. Other councils (and politicians) should take note.

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