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Judicial Watch • Judge Bans Enforcement Of N.Y. Day Laborer Law

Judge Bans Enforcement Of N.Y. Day Laborer Law

Judge Bans Enforcement Of N.Y. Day Laborer Law

MAY 21, 2010

A federal judge is preventing a New York town from enforcing its “unconstitutional” law prohibiting illegal immigrant day laborers from seeking work on public property and people from hiring them.

Oyster Bay, a Long Island town of about 300,000 residents, passed the public safety measure last fall because day laborers—and those who hire them—were creating dangerous traffic situations in the municipality’s main roads. The ordinance prohibits pedestrians from soliciting employment and bars drivers from stopping to hire workers.

Town officials say the traffic problem has been brewing for years and they had no choice but to take action because the federal government “has turned its back on immigration enforcement.” Day laborers and those who try to hire them are warned about the law before being fined $250 for each subsequent offense.

This week a group of day laborers filed a lawsuit claiming that the town enacted a law with a “discriminatory community animus” against Latinos. The measure was passed to prevent Latino day laborers from soliciting work in Oyster Bay so as to drive them out of their communities and out of the sight of residents who wish they were not there, according to the complaint filed for the illegal aliens by a civil rights group.

For years the day laborers have successfully obtained temporary jobs by standing on local street corners and soliciting work from homeowners, contractors and other employers who pick them up and take them to job sites, the complaint states. These residents’ ability to seek work has been significantly curtailed by the ordinance, it goes on to say. This unlawfully prohibits speech related to employment.

A federal judge evidently agreed and issued a restraining order against the measure’s enforcement hours after the lawsuit was filed. The ban will stand until the court can consider the matter at a hearing scheduled for next week. The ruling is an indicator that the law could be determined unconstitutional by the court.

Oyster Bay’s ordinance is similar to measures enacted in several communities nationwide, most of them in southern California. Earlier this year one of those anti-solicitation laws (in Costa Mesa) was challenged in court by a group of illegal immigrants who claim it’s unconstitutional and that it violates their civil rights. The outcome of that case has not yet been determined.

A few years ago federal courts ruled against measures banning day laborer solicitations in Redondo Beach California and Mamaroneck, a working class village located about 25 miles north of New York City. The judge in the Redondo Beach case ruled that the law violated the First Amendment free speech rights of illegal migrants and the New York judge determined that Hispanic laborers were the victims of discrimination.


 


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