25 Laborers Show Up on 1st Day of Burbank Hiring Center

Times Staff Writer

A controversial day laborer center opened outside a Home Depot store in Burbank on Thursday, despite accusations that the city was encouraging illegal immigration by arranging for construction of the center.

About 25 workers showed up at the hiring hall Thursday morning. There were no protests, but Save Our State founder Joseph Turner said there would probably be some activists at the site Saturday. His Ventura County-based group opposes illegal immigration.

City officials required Home Depot to build the hiring center and to help pay for its operation as a condition of obtaining a permit for its new Flower Street store. The center is in a corner of the parking lot and will operate from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. It is being run by Catholic Charities of Los Angeles.

"We will always have people attack the site," said Catholic Charities program coordinator Juan Rodriguez.

"They can say whatever they want. But we just want to remind them that workers have a right to look for work."

One of those workers, Alex Martin, said he was pleased that there was a new center in Burbank, just a few minutes from where he lives. Martin, an illegal immigrant from Honduras, said it's illogical to rally against day laborer sites.

"We come here to work," he said. "We aren't doing anything wrong."

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