The city of Los Angeles should consider providing assembly sites for day laborers and should select a site in Pacoima for a pilot program, City Councilman Ernani Bernardi said Friday.
Bernardi said a designated gathering place could ease the problem presented by day laborers who congregate on street corners and stir community complaints about litter, traffic, harassment of passers-by and disruption of nearby businesses.
“By providing a location away from residences and business, most, if not all, of the problems associated with these gathering places will be eliminated,” he said.
At Friday’s City Council meeting, Bernardi introduced a motion to that effect, which was referred to the council’s Government Operations Committee for study.
Bernardi said he would like to see social service organizations or churches run the hiring halls with help from the city, which would provide the site. He said the city-owned Pacoima Community Center on Glenoaks and Van Nuys boulevards is a possible site in the San Fernando Valley.
“I want to begin discussing this right now to see what we can do,” Bernardi said.
As a model for a Los Angeles hiring hall program, Bernardi cited a project that began this month in Costa Mesa. There, the city is leasing a vacant gas station site and has designated it as a gathering place for day laborers. In conjunction with a nonprofit group that helps immigrants, worker residency documents are checked so employers can legally hire them.
The 1985 federal immigration law prohibits employers from hiring undocumented workers. All employers are required to verify the citizenship of potential employees, including day laborers.
In September Glendale started an experimental program that allows workers to gather in the parking lot of a Catholic community organization.
In the Valley, federal immigration officials have recently raided popular day-labor spots in Van Nuys and Sylmar in response to community complaints. Many workers have in turn complained that they have been granted legal residency status during the federal amnesty program and are being unfairly targeted.
“My concern is that people in this city who are now legal residents are being deprived of work because they are afraid to go out to these sites,” Bernardi said.