MARCH 25, 2008
Indicative of the illegal immigration crisis, an epidemic of day laborer camps are popping up nationwide and the ordeal has forced the Department of Justice to publish guidelines to help local law enforcement agencies deal with the growing problem.
The day laborer sites are areas in parking lots, public parks or street alleys where illegal immigrants—mostly men—gather to search for work. They often loiter for hours, become unruly, vandalize or deface property with graffiti and litter neighborhoods with trash. Public urination as well as alcohol and drug consumption are also rampant at day laborer sites.
Overwhelmed local police, threatened by civil rights groups that claim day laborers have free-speech rights, are often at a loss for how to handle the situation. In fact, laws prohibiting people from soliciting employment on city sidewalks have been repealed after illegal immigrant advocates filed lawsuits deeming them unconstitutional because they violate free speech.
The federal government has finally issued uniform guidelines for those on the front line who deal daily with the crisis. Appropriately titled "Disorder at Day Laborer Sites", the information was compiled by a division of the Justice Department dedicated to problem-oriented policing. The guide offers background on day laborer sites, their ties to human smugglers and the negative affect they have on communities.
It directs local police to enforce disorder-related offenses—public intoxication, littering, vandalism—commonly associated with day laborer sites and to establish a highly visible police presence. In cities where ordinances forbid work solicitation in undesignated areas, it is crucial for police to enforce the law. Ordinance enforcement, the guide says, must be comprehensive and continual.
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