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Brea’s Hiring Hall Approach Is Wisest : The legal responsibility for ascertaining a dayworker’s residency lies with the employer, and not with a municipality.

Brea has taken a sensible and dignified approach to its problem of having day laborers congregate on city streets. The workers were causing a traffic safety problem because they gathered in a residential neighborhood off Walnut Avenue near Imperial Highway. They would run out into traffic, and employers would stop and make unsafe turns to pick them up. So City Manager Frank Benest came up with the idea of a city-sponsored job center. It opened early last week and quickly proved to be a place where workers and laborers could get together. Of the roughly 55 workers who showed up in the first day Monday, 23 were placed in jobs. That’s a pretty good record for starters.

The Brea center is the first hiring hall in Orange County that does not require workers to carry proof of U.S. residency.

Orange and Costa Mesa already have hiring halls, but they screen workers for residency documentation. Laguna Beach has an outdoor hiring lot that, like the Brea center, does not attempt to distinguish between the documented and undocumented.

U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service officials say they prefer city hiring halls that screen for documents, as is the case in Orange and Costa Mesa. Ultimately, the responsibility for ascertaining residency lies with the employer, and not with a municipality. It is the employers who can be fined under the Immigration Control and Reform Act if caught hiring undocumented laborers.

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The city has to be concerned about safety and order on the streets. The hiring hall approach offers a decent way to bring workers and employers together. Now here’s one suggestion to make a good idea even better: The sign outside the center gave its name, location and telephone number in English. Wouldn’t it make sense to have a sign also in Spanish to help the immigrants who use the center?


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