Monday, April 02, 2007

Weeding Out the Undocumented... From the Streets

"We are trying to … keep our population comfortable and safe," she said. "Enforcing immigration law is not a city job."

That's what Dana Point Mayor (AND Candidate for AD 73 in 2008) Diane Harkey has to say to The OC Register about a "No-Trespassing Ordinance" that may very well become law tonight in Dana Point. And if Dana Point does pass this ordinance, it will be the third South Orange County city to do so...

But what does this mean? The new law will prohibit day laborers from congregating on private property... But will it really kick all the "illegals" out of Dana Point? Will it solve the problem of all the "illegal aliens" loitering in front of city businesses?

First, it was the Costa Mesa City Council taking federal law into their own hands by voting to deputize police officers as immigration agents...
And now, much of the nation is following. First it was just the Minuteman Project, but now it has become a giant monster.

So what is it about these anti-immigration measures taking off in Orange County, and spreading throughout the rest of California, and being copied elsewhere in the nation? As a native Orange County resident, I live in the middle of all of this...
And I want to examine the issues surrounding local governments enforcing immigration law. Today, we go to Dana Point to figure out whether this "No-Trespassing Ordinance" will really work. Follow me after the flip for more on this latest attempt in Orange County to weed out the undocumented...

So why does Dana Point want to jump on the "NO TRESPASSING!!" Bandwagon? Well, city officials are complaining that local businesses are hurting because of all those "illegals" lingering on their property.

City officials said local businesses have suffered from the presence of loiterers on their property.

"They are getting impacted," Dana Point Police Chief Mark Levy said.

Day laborers congregate on Doheny Park Road in Capistrano Beach. Levy drove through the area at around 10 a.m. Monday.

"We have a large group of people who are just standing there, just hanging out," he said. "They didn't look like they were ready to go to work at all."

So perhaps Dana Point will enjoy the same success that Lake Forest has had since that city enacted its own "No-Trespassing Ordinance". Also from OC Register:

For about 15 years, the day laborers in Lake Forest have sparked debate. Critics say they urinate in public, litter, drink in public and harass passers-by.

The Lake Forest City Council in October passed a citywide no-trespassing law stating that a property owner or someone designated by the owner can file a complaint with the Sheriff's Department if a trespasser refuses to leave the property. No-trespassing signs must be posted throughout the property. Violators can be cited or arrested.

Some property owners around the unofficial day laborer site, on Jeronimo Road, Orange and Cherry Avenues, hired private security to enforce the no-trespassing law.

And the no-trespassing law seems to be working.

Two men were arrested last Saturday during a protest for the right to solicit work on the sidewalk. The security guard warned them to leave the private property, Lt. Jay LeFlore, Lake Forest chief of police services, said. After booking and an immigration check, the protesters were cited and released.

Oh wait! But just HOW SUCCESSFUL has Lake Forest's ordinance been? So successful that the day laborers moved a few hundred feet and across the city line to Mission Viejo?

Lake Forest property owners and city officials are thrilled that a new ordinance and security guard have greatly reduced the number of day laborers gathering to seek work in their city.

But the workers haven't disappeared. They've gone next door to Mission Viejo.

Day laborers, as a result of Lake Forest's recent measures, are moving from Jeronimo Road and Orange Avenue in Lake Forest to Jeronimo and Los Alisos Boulevard in Mission Viejo.

So what did Mission Viejo do? They followed through with their own ordinance...
And went a step further. But anyways, can this "Beggar Thy Neighbor" approach to kicking day laborers out of one's own town (only to dump them on another town) really work?

After all, can Dana Point, Mission Viejo, and Lake Forest really evade the law of supply and demand? If people continue to demand cheap labor to tend to their tropical gardens and clean their olympic-sized pools and remodel their designer kitchens and paint the new master bedroom, then the supply of day laborers will remain. So can the UCI anthropology professor and the Orange City mayor offer valuable words of wisdom?

"The ordinances are just shifting the problem around," said Leo Chavez, professor of anthropology at UC Irvine. "They are moving from one corner to that corner. In reality, it becomes a floating labor supply."

In the city of Orange, which has seen its share of debates over day laborers, Mayor Carolyn Cavecche said it's "like squishing Jell-O. You crack down on one area and they move to another."

And is that UCI Chicano Studies professor onto something as well?

Associate Professor of Political Science and Chicano/Latino Studies at UC Irvine Louis DeSipio said the ordinance would not change the demand for day workers.

"These day laborers are there because people in the community are hiring them," he said.

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