The town of Herndon, Virginia, thrust in the national spotlight over the issue of immigrant workers, last night approved spending $175,000 to create a formal gathering place for day laborers, many of whom are immigrants, some of them illegally so, but probably most of them, in the interpreted words of one such immigrant, “honest workers, not criminals, like they say.”
It was ugly. People concerned about the neighborhood ambience and property values were called bigots. Immigrants were accused of spreading tuberculosis. And “one speaker Tuesday night testified that the day laborers represent the ‘comeuppance of the white man’ over the conquest of Native Americans hundreds of years ago.”
But in the end, by a 5-2 vote, the town council said
[T]hey were helpless in the face of what they called a federal failure to police U.S. borders. They said it was their responsibility to bring order to a neighborhood nuisance that had become the town’s most divisive issue in recent history.
“Here we sit, expecting this local government to resolve a national immigration problem that is out of our control,” said council member Harlon Reece.
…The dissenters said a vote to spend public money on a laborer site would amount to an endorsement of illegal immigration.
Still, council member Dennis D. Husch, who opposed the measure along with member Ann V. Null, expressed frustration with federal policies. “Shame on [federal officials] for their cowardly retreat,” he said. “True leadership was in their grasp.”
Could he have been talking about President Bush and the Republican majorities in both houses that could do something about illegal immigration? Oh no, he was talking about “true leadership.” Besides, Bush is on a five-week bike ride.
The Post’s Lisa Rein explains how this became such a national issue, even though Arlington and other Washington suburbs have formal, tax-supported gathering spots for day laborers.
In recent weeks, radio talk shows, cable news and Internet blogs fumed that taxpayer money would help immigrants who might be in the country illegally. They advised rounding up such immigrants instead.
And exactly what would the Herndon police do if they rounded up all the illegal immigrants looking for work, besides tell their white collar friends that there are opportunities hanging dry wall at $10 an hour?
Well, I guess they’d feed them and clothe them and house them in the pokey. At taxpayers’ expense, no doubt. Then after the money all but run out at city hall and before school started, Herndon could put them in a Fairfax County school bus and drive them back to Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras, — and Guinea, Ghana and Gabon. Can you drive to Africa? No problem, Herndon could rent planes cheap from Delta.
That would leave all the lawn mowing to Fairfax County high school boys and all the toilet scrubbing to Fairfax County high school girls and their bored mothers.
And while were at it, let’s stop buying from countries that are filled with immigrants — like China. I hear they’re mostly Chinese there. I’m sure most Herndoners would give up $10 shirts and instead buy $50 ones made in Southwest Virginia, where the mills would all be re-opened.
Wait, I think I’m on to something. Quick, anyone have the phone numbers of the Kaine and Kilgore campaigns? This sounds like a revolutionary Virginia economic plan in the making.
Four reproters gae us stories this morning about the Herndon vote. One wonders if Christina Bellantoni was at the meeting she reported on.
On Tuesday and again last night before voting after 11 p.m., the council heard testimony from scores of residents, most of whom oppose the application…
Was Ms. Bellantoni at the same meeting as The Post?
The speakers last night — the carry-over crowd from a seven-hour hearing Tuesday in Herndon’s small council chambers — were evenly split about the proposed site…
Or the Richmond Times-Dispatch?
Comments appeared to be about equally divided between supporters and opponents…
Or the AP?
The comments were split about evenly between those who said the site would provide a safe gathering place for people looking for work and those who opposed the facility, saying tax dollars shouldn’t be used to provide the site for day laborers…