Our View: Day labor relocation working so far
April 24, 2007
The situation had become intolerable. A growing number of day laborers were flocking to the parking lot of the train depot on Truckee’s Commercial Row, waiting for hours for prospective employers to arrive and offer them work.
As the ranks of the day laborers grew, some visitors to Truckee complained that their cars were swarmed when they pulled into the depot parking lot. Downtown merchants became concerned that the presence of the unregulated, outdoor hiring hall would deter tourists from enjoying the historic charms of Truckee, depriving the local economy of an important source of retail sales.
About a month ago, the Town of Truckee, working with the business community and the nonprofit Family Resource Center, proposed a solution ” relocating the day laborers to a lot a short distance east of the train depot.
With the consent of the job seekers, many of whom are immigrants from Mexico, the town moved the outdoor job center about a month ago. So far, the change has accomplished the goals of town officials and the business community.
The Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce, with offices in the train depot, has provided portable toilets for the laborers, and the town is considering adding benches. The Family Resource Center has sent an outreach worker to the gathering area, and may recommend services such as making lessons in English as a second language available to the job seekers.
For their part, the day laborers have cooperated, even if the offers of work have been fewer in number in recent weeks. Complaints from visitors have dried up.
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“Going into this, that’s what we wanted to accomplish,” said Alex Terrazas, Truckee’s assistant town manager.
Lynn Saunders, president and CEO of the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce, said the “soft approach” to Truckee’s day labor center has reduced the problem of traffic congestion and visitor complaints.
“I think it’s been a very positive thing; it’s better for our visitors coming to Truckee,” Saunders said.
Saunders said the stakeholders addressing the day labor situation in Truckee are reluctant to tackle the thorny issue of whether or not the job-seekers are legal immigrants. Instead, the stakeholders are focused on addressing more pressing issues.
“This is something that communities across the country are dealing with,” Saunders said.
Assemblyman Rick Keene, who represents the Truckee area, has introduced a bill to require undocumented day laborers to obtain a permit that would allow them to work in the United States for three years. Assembly Bill 735 would require immigrants to pay $1,000 to apply for the permits, and allow them to stay longer if they demonstrate progress in applying for U.S. citizenship.
While a broader solution to illegal immigration remains out of reach, we applaud the efforts of Truckee and the town’s partners in achieving a humane, if temporary, solution to a local problem.
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