The Minutemen Are Coming--To Herndon, Virginia
According to a recent article in the Washington Post, residents of Herndon, Virginia, will be getting some help with the monitoring of the day-laborers center due to open in December:
"A group of Herndon residents that is part of the national Minutemen organization is planning to patrol day laborer hiring sites in the town and report illegal immigrant workers and their employers to authorities.For a variety of reasons, law enforcement is not getting the proper monitoring done, so citizens will be assisting. Is this vigilante justice?
"An offshoot of the Arizona-based Minutemen Project, which launched civil patrols to stem illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border this year, the Herndon group says it will gather evidence of immigration and employment violations by photographing illegal workers and those who hire them.
"'The ultimate goal is to rid Herndon of illegal aliens,' said the group's leader, Herndon resident George Taplin."
Operation Spotlight, the patrol group, has a specific plan:
"[M]ore than 50 volunteers, who are all Virginia residents but whose names he would not divulge, will begin staking out informal hiring sites and trailing laborers to their work sites in about two weeks. He said they will compile a database of photographs and record the names of companies hiring workers, then give the information to federal immigration authorities, local law enforcement and other agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service.This plan does not appear to be vigilante justice. Nevertheless, Operation Spotlight is meeting with resistance:
"Taplin said the volunteers would avoid confrontation. They will be told that they cannot carry firearms, he said. 'We're here to collect data, and that's it,' he said.
"Taplin said the group would also follow workers home to document possible zoning violations, such as overcrowding.
"Taplin said he met with Herndon Police Chief Toussaint E. Summers Jr. to assure him that the patrols would not cause disruptions or hurt anyone..."
"With the formation of the group, tensions over day laborers and illegal immigrants reached another peak in Herndon...As I see it, if the center, funded in part by taxpayers' dollars, will in any way foster or encourage illegal immigrants to utilize it, such a matter should be of concern to those who will be operating the center. Why does it not matter to Project Hope that illegal immigrants might be present?
"Kerrie Wilson, who sits on the executive council of Project Hope and Harmony, the nonprofit group that will operate the planned job center [For information on the Muslim origins of Project Hope, click here] , said she has received several calls from laborers and employers who are worried about the patrol. She said she and members of her staff have informed them of workers' rights and discussed 'conflict avoidance.'
"She said she did not know whether the patrols would discourage workers from gathering in public.
"'Certainly, workers are concerned now, but it's just too much to say' what the effect will be, Wilson said. She added: 'We believe this is an attempt to provoke a reaction. And, frankly, mostly what we're focusing on right now is getting the center up and running.'"
In addition to those involved with Project Hope, some governmental officials also are not pleased with Operation Spotlight:
"Law enforcement is best left up to professionals,' said Dean Boyd, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, when asked what the agency would do with reports from the Minutemen about illegal immigrants. 'Obviously, we do welcome tips from the public, but obviously, we have to run down the information and verify it.'"Somehow, I always thought that such was the job of law enforcement--to run down information which might lead to the disruption of illegal activity. And from what I understand of Operation Spotlight, the group will serve to provide tips to the appropriate authorities.
But Wilson, of Project Hope, sees the matter differently:
"Wilson said the hiring center is scheduled to open in December. She said she thinks the Minutemen's attention is focused in the wrong place.If, right now, laws regulating immigration are on the books, I want to see those laws enforced. Is there anything wrong with private citizens' facilitating the enforcement of the law?
"'I think the real issue is, of course, that for folks that have questions about immigration and the immigration system, the answer is down the street from Herndon, in the halls of Congress and the White House,' Wilson said."