Costa Mesa : Task Force to Look at Day Labor Pickup Spots
Hoping to avoid sweeps by police and immigration agents of two street corners where Latino men gather daily to seek work, the City Council has approved the creation of a task force to address the problem.
Councilwoman Mary Hornbuckle, who proposed the task force, said between 50 and 100 men wait each morning for employers to pick them up at Lions Park on West 18th Street and at the corner of Placentia Avenue and Center Street.
“It is threatening to some people walking by to have great numbers of men congregating in one spot,” Hornbuckle said. “But we are also concerned for their (the men’s) safety. These men have no protection. Many of them are here illegally, and they are reluctant to make waves.”
Hornbuckle said there have been reports that some employers have not paid the workers after a day’s labor. “We don’t want to cause them any more problems than they already have,” she said.
But she added that some West Side residents have complained that the clusters of men disrupt their neighborhoods.
“We have to work on this collectively,” she suggested. The task force will include church representatives, city government, residents and employers.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service has raided the corners a couple of times in the past, she said, and the city hopes to avoid any more raids or police involvement. “At this point, we have a fairly uneasy relationship (with Latinos) in west Costa Mesa,” Hornbuckle pointed out. “We have a substation (nearby) and we’ve staffed it with bilinguals. We hope to get a handle on crime that way. But (the Latinos) won’t report crimes or give us information if we don’t build up their trust.”