Virginia Town Helping Illegal Aliens Find Work, Group Says

By Monisha Bansal | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

(Editor's note: Updating the following story, the Herndon Town Council voted 5-2 Wednesday night to build a gathering spot for day laborers - a taxpayer-funded project intended to move the workers (many of them illegal immigrants) from a local 7-11 parking lot where they now gather. "Here we sit, expecting this local government to resolve a national immigration problem that is out of our control," council member Harlon Reece said before the vote.)

( - The small town of Herndon, Va., has had day laborers, the majority of whom are illegal immigrants, line up outside the 7-Eleven looking for work, but after citizens voiced their concerns about the site, the town council responded by proposing to move the site to a police station.

According to a Fairfax County report, 99.5 percent of day laborers in Herndon are Hispanic, and 87 percent are illegal immigrants. Employers -- which include contractors, other day laborers and private homeowners -- seek them out for construction, landscaping, painting and janitorial work.

Susan Tully, national field director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, criticized the town's decision to simply move the site. "I don't think a city should ever be involved in helping to find employment for illegal aliens."

Tully added that the town's support would be misleading to "unsuspecting citizens" who could be fined up to $11,000 per employee per day if they hire illegal immigrants. "They are entrapping the citizens of Herndon and the surrounding area into committing a federal violation of law," Tully told Cybercast News Service.

"Lawmakers should never be in the business of helping lawbreakers," Tully said.

Philip Jones, a Herndon resident with, echoed Tully's sentiments, saying the city plans to use taxpayer money to run a facility that will be frequented by illegal immigrants, and there will be no enforcement of immigration laws.

"I don't think it's something that belongs in a neighborhood setting where you have children and families. They are using taxpayer money to run a facility that facts have proven may not work. It certainly feels we have a lot of dirty deals going on," Philip Jones, a Herndon resident with, told Cybercast News Service.

About 150 people attended a town council meeting Tuesday to voice their thoughts on the site, including Sarah Ince from Reston Interfaith, which has done studies on day laborers in the area.

"Many employers are not comfortable going to the 7-Eleven site to seek laborers," Ince said that night, according to the Herndon Town Council meeting's minutes.

Employers would "be more comfortable with the idea of a formal site where they could drive in and speak to a coordinator, state needs and be linked with someone who demonstrated the abilities in an organized fashion. At an informal site, anyone arriving can be swarmed by laborers," Ince said.

Herndon Planning Commissioner Robert Burk defended the town's plan to move the site to the police station, even though the police won't crack down on immigration violators. Burk said the town gets no help from the federal government when it comes to immigration enforcement.

"The federal government has left Herndon on its own. Since the borders are not being enforced, there are a minimal number of INS agents, and they need to make a decision that is best for the town of Herndon utilizing their own resources," Burk said.

An official decision on the future day labor site has been postponed.

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