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Group Pickets Supervisor's Office Over Proposed Ban on Day Laborers

March 06, 1994|ERIN J. AUBRY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

About 30 members of a grass-roots immigrant advocacy group gathered at county Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke's Inglewood field office Monday to protest a proposed ordinance that would ban day laborers in unincorporated areas of the county, a measure prompted by heated complaints from residents of Ladera Heights.

The demonstrators represented about two-thirds of the Pro-Immigrant Mobilization Coalition, a group that advocates immigrant rights and opposes legislation that founder Alvaro Maldonado says unfairly targets immigrants and undocumented workers. The coalition has also sent a petition with 300 signatures to Burke's office in protest of her position on the proposed ordinance.

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"What we're calling on Burke to do is to drop this bill," Maldonado said amid the protesters' strenuous shouts at passing cars and pedestrians. "There are very good alternatives to this Draconian bill she's proposing, which are in existence now in cities like Pasadena. If this bill passes, it won't prevent people from looking for work. It'll just be another part of the anti-immigrant hysteria and set a bad precedent."

The county ordinance proposed by Burke would prohibit workers from soliciting employment on public rights of way and in commercial parking lots, although property owners could allow day laborers to use parking lots as gathering sites. In some areas, such as Pasadena and Agoura Hills, work sites have been set up to accommodate laborers, providing them with restrooms and on-site mediators to act as community liaisons.

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Demonstrators waited outside Inglewood Municipal Court, where Burke's field office is located, but did not see Burke or any of her representatives. Burke spokeswoman Vicki Pipkin said that although deputies did not intentionally avoid protesters, Burke believes that "confrontation is not necessarily the way."

Pipkin added that an alternative to the ordinance is being pursued by Burke's office. Representatives are working with management at the HomeBase store at Slauson and Fairfax avenues, the site that touched off the furor, to set up restrooms and waiting facilities for day laborers. Pipkin said that officials hope to resolve property liability issues before the ordinance is brought before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday for a vote.

"We're trying to find a site for the laborers, if not HomeBase, then somewhere else," Pipkin said. "The bottom line is, Ladera Heights is a residential and not a commercial district. That's why homeowners there have been the most vocal about the issue."

Raul Anorve, a Los Angeles resident and coalition member, said opponents of the measure must keep the pressure on.

"We've got to keep saying, 'Look into alternatives to the problem.' We've even sent Burke a letter describing some," he said. "This isn't about war. We believe both sides can collaborate and work it out."

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