- The Washington Times - Monday, April 2, 2007

If the District ends up re-enacting the day-labor controversies of nearby cities and towns, no one can claim to be surprised at the inevitable and justifiable pushback.

Herndon, Silver Spring, Wheaton and Gaithersburg are four nearby places where activists and politicians advocated taxpayer-funded day-labor centers despite significant public opposition. People object for rather simple reasons. They don’t want loitering, urinating or littering, and they certainly don’t their neighborhoods turned into loutish places. Naturally, they especially dislike the idea of subsidizing all this with their own tax dollars — for the benefit of scofflaws who hire day laborers, many of whom are illegal aliens. Local liberal ideologues always seem surprised that taxpayers actually care what happens to their property and money. They shouldn’t be.

The District’s news is that D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. wants a multicultural training center in Northeast near the Rhode Island Avenue Home Depot. This center would fulfill the same functions of day-labor centers in the suburbs. As in Herndon and elsewhere, laborers already congregate in parking lots and near D.C. stores. Mr. Thomas’ aim is to formalize things in a “public-private” facility sustained in part by public coffers. And that, predictably, will mean controversy, over both the public-nuisance issue and over the use of tax dollars for the illegal hiring of illegal aliens.

The town of Herndon was sued over its day-labor center, which is proceeding in spite of the lawsuit. Last year, half the town council was thrown out of office in a vote widely perceived as a referendum on the mishandling of the day-laborer issue. Strong opposition here was viewed with distaste by disappointed liberal politicians around the country.

In Gaithersburg, proponents of the day-labor center failed 30 times in 2006, only to be saved in January by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and a site just outside city limits. There, NIMBYism couldn’t stop things. The center, run by the illegal-alien advocate group CASA of Maryland Inc., is slated to open this month. Now, the watchful eyes of area residents will gauge whether CASA and friends can keep laborers off people’s property and out of the public eye. That’s what they are now reduced to, their more principled arguments about the rights of taxpayers or the duty not to abet scofflaws having fallen on deaf ears among local politicians.

The District treads here at its peril. If it moves forward, city politicians should expect lawsuits and challenges from D.C. taxpayers and law-abiding citizens — not to mention jeers for helping companies and people break the law.

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