A nation of outlaws, Part II

Posted: Sep 14, 2005 12:00 AM

“The federal government has left Herndon on its own.”

Those words spoken by Herndon Planning Commissioner Robert Burk resonate with citizens of Herndon, Virginia, and Americans across the country. As more illegal aliens stream across the border and the federal government continues to ignore the problem, more local governments will be forced to deal with the problem on their own.

In response to illegal aliens loitering around a local 7-Eleven, creating a public nuisance while waiting for off-the-books jobs, the Herndon Town Council approved a plan to build a central location for the “day laborers.” Dennis Husch, a council member who voted against the proposal, described the conditions:

Daily we see up to 150 men seeking work around the intersection of Alabama Drive and Elden Street beginning about 6:30 am every day. That number dwindles to about 75 at 11 am when all of the jobs are taken. For the rest of the day and into the early evening, the men ‘hang-out’ along the street and at the 7-Eleven and socialize.

Unfortunately, the right to loiter is the law of the land. “We have been advised by the Town Attorney that loitering laws are not enforceable based on a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Husch. Fortunately, the council’s vote isn’t the final word. There are a few obstacles on the road to the illegal, taxpayer-supported center:

• Legal ActionJudicial Watch, a nonprofit watchdog group, filed suit against the Town of Herndon on behalf of Herndon taxpayers. “Can a town expend taxpayer monies or provide support to facilitate such illegal activities? Of course not,” said president Tom Fitton. “This proposed site is designed to facilitate illegal activity: the illegal hiring of illegal aliens…For the Town Council to recommend this plan would be illegal under federal law. But it would also be illegal under Virginia law.”

Herndon officials obviously know that using public funds to build the day labor center is against the law, but they probably figured if illegal aliens can get away with breaking the law, they can too.

• Zoning Action – Part of the proposed day labor site will be located in Loudoun County. On September 6, the Loudoun County Zoning Administrator ruled that the site would not be an appropriate use of the property, which is zoned as residential. Herndon must apply for a special exemption, but the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is considering legal action against Herndon.

• Citizen Action – According to the Washington Examiner, the Minuteman volunteers may be headed to Herndon. The Minuteman Project is a group of citizens who stand watch over the borders. If more citizens joined this group and others like Help Save Herndon, they may be able to sway or shame the Herndon Town Council into reversing its decision.

• Emergency Action – The Democratic governors of Arizona and New Mexico, two border states, recently declared states of emergency because of the damage and danger caused by illegal immigration. Virginia isn’t a border state, but local politicians have asked Virginia Gov. Mark Warner to declare a state of emergency. It may be the only way to get the federal government involved in a “local issue.”

We all know illegal immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility and growing national concern. Husch expressed disappointment in his political colleagues’ failure to step forward.

“Herndon was forced to go it alone,” Husch said. “All I can say is, shame on them for their cowardly retreat. True leadership was in their grasp if they had seized the moment.”

One of those colleagues, Herndon Mayor Michael O’Reilly, voted for the day labor center.
Although he acknowledges that illegal immigration is the feds’ responsibility, he’s confused about his own. After Judicial Watch filed its lawsuit, O’Reilly issued this statement:

It is unfortunate that this organization is using the Herndon day worker issue to pursue an agenda to attempt to influence or reform federal immigration policy. Clearly the national immigration issue needs to be handled by Congress and the executive branch and not by small local governments such as Herndon.

Americans have a right to influence government policy and petition the government for redress. Citizens of Herndon elected legislators to write laws and a mayor to execute those laws, and they have the constitutional right – a duty – to complain when those officials shirk those responsibilities. 

O’Reilly added: “We strongly urge those interested in the national immigration issue to communicate their questions and concerns to their federal representatives in Congress and the Senate who have the ability to address them.”

I wonder if the mayor followed his own advice before he voted for an illegal enterprise designed to benefit illegal aliens and their illegal employers at taxpayers’ expense in violation of federal law. I guess the buck has to stop somewhere, and Herndon’s mayor wants his constituents to know it doesn’t stop at his office.

Correction: In Part I, I wrote that illegal immigrants “flood across the border at the rate of one million a year.” About half a million illegal aliens enter the U.S. annually. 

La Shawn Barber is a freelance writer who blogs at www.lashawnbarber.com. Read Part I of A Nation of Outlaws.