Immigration support group in Centreville considers work center for laborers

geneva;”>While some neighboring communities focus on policing the activities of migrant workers, a Centreville group has instead committed itself to aiding them.

Last month, the group, which calls itself the Centreville Immigration Forum, discussed implementing an emergency hot line, a worker center, and a way to help immigrant families who have been impacted by federal raids.

The group meets monthly at various locations. Representatives of other area churches and social-service groups also attend.

Past speakers have included Fairfax County Supervisor Michael Frye (R-Sully); Eve Barner, aide to Va. Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-Centreville); Robert Rutland Brown, executive director of legal aid organization Just Neighbors; and Mukit Hussain, of the Herndon Resource Center.

Members of Wellspring United Church of Christ, through its community outreach committee, have overseen these monthly “immigration dialogue” meetings for about a year.

Alice Foltz, the committee’s director, who often acts as the moderator, says she wants to see “more light and less heat” on the subject of immigration.

“We want to listen to each other and try to build community in Centreville, instead of just parallel communities,” she said.

The forum, which has about 24 members, met Nov. 18 at the Centreville United Methodist Church and discussed implementing a worker center in Centreville.

“Not every day laborer standing on the corner is illegal, but they all need jobs,” Foltz said. “The former worker center in Herndon enabled workers to have some recourse when they were not paid. That side of the Herndon experience would be very helpful to us.”

After discussing the benefits of a worker site, which member Pat Hood called “a big sell job,” Foltz steered the group toward more immediately achievable goals. “Let’s focus on the low-hanging fruit. What can we do right now?” she said.

The group concluded that implementing a Spanish-language emergency hot line that laborers could call for assistance could be accomplished more readily. “It would be a way to provide direction for assistance should an emergency arise, such as electricity being shut off,” said Jerry Foltz.

Esteban Garces, of the union Workers and Tenants United, said that many immigrant families are adversely impacted when family members are detained by federal raids. “Workers and their families are in desperate need of bond assistance,” Garces said.

“Maybe we could take care of families after an [immigration enforcement] raid,” suggested Mike Morse.

“I hope so,” added Pat Hood. “But not everyone is as sweet as we are.”

Herndon starts I-9 campaign for day laborers

The Herndon Town Council has implemented a federal worker verification program that will require employers to check the work status of any prospective day laborer before hiring them.

In a November resolution, the council directed Town Manager Art Anselene to implement a campaign informing those who employ day workers that it is illegal to hire workers on private property and that federal law prohibits hiring workers without an employment check, typically conducted via completion of a federal I-9 form.

All employers are generally required to have workers fill out the form upon being hired, although Town Attorney Richard Kaufman has admitted there is some legal ambivalence as to whether this applies to day laborers.

Nonetheless, beginning next week, 12 signs incorporating this message will be erected at the approaches to Elden Street and the Alabama Drive intersection. Some will be placed in front of a local McDonalds, others at the side entrance to a local ping center and others near the Elden Street entrance to the Amphora Diner.

According to town spokesperson Anne Curtis, a box filled with I-9 forms will be attached to each of the 12 signs. “Similar to real estate signs,” she said. All employers will need is a pen.

Forms will also be available at the Herndon Municipal Center, and Herndon’s Neighborhood Resource Center.

The program’s implementation will also be advertised in local newspapers, and information will be available via the town’s Web site at

“The town’s zoning ordinance prohibits the hiring of day workers on private property – and federal law prohibits the hiring of day workers without an employment check, or I-9 form,” said Mayor Steve DeBenedittis. “Our aim with this campaign is to educate employers of day workers to these requirements and to follow through with our own zoning enforcement activity and with direct contact to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement if we note violations to these requirements.”

Once implemented, Curtis said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), would be contacted if it is observed that employers are not complying with the program. She added however, that there would be no “formal” observation put in place until at least June 2009, when the program and any additional resources will be re-evaluated.

Anselene estimates that the cost of the program to the town will range between $4,000 to $7,000 for the six-month period of December 2008 through June 2009.


“Alleged” No Longer: Nativist Buffalo Rick Galeener Pleads Guilty to Urinating in Public

Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 07:35:30 PM
Buffalo Rick Galeener, s guilty of taking an illegal al fresco whiz.
Stephen Lemons
Phoenix New Times

In a surprising turn of events in the pending bench trial of nativist wackjob and noted Yosemite Sam-lookalike Buffalo Rick Galeener, the grizzled 58 year-old entered Phoenix Municipal Court this morning, and pleaded “guilty” to one count of public urination. He was ordered to pay a fine of $194.

According to Chief Assistant City Prosecutor Vicki Hill, the deal had been arranged in advance, and Galeener was supposed to have made an appearance before Thanksgiving to enter the new plea, but didn’t make it in because he had been feelin’ poorly. His trial in Judge Deborah Griffith’s courtroom was set to begin today. 

Urinating in public is a class 1 misdemeanor, and carries a potential $2,500 fine, and six months in county stir, where, hypothetically, Galeener might have enjoyed the luxurious ity of his hero, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The incident, in which Galeener was spotted making water by a local Hispanic lady Paulita Cortes and her two year old son, took place on March 8, nearby the Macehualli Work Center, just south of 25th Street and Bell Road. 

Galeener was outside the work center for migrant day-laborers as part of a months-long protest of the site by members of United for a Sovereign America, the most virulent anti-immigrant hate group in the Valley, and one that recently marched outside of Mayor Phil Gordon’s home to protest Gordon’s outspoken criticism of Sheriff Joe’s immigration policies. 

According to the Phoenix police report of the incident, Cortes spotted Galeener around noon near his 1992 Ford Ranger truck, “exposing his penis and urinating in a container.” The same report stated Galeener admitted to a police officer that he had urinated, but had done so inside his truck where nobody could see him. It should be noted there’s a McDonalds and a Taco Bell just about a block away from where the incident took place.

Phoenix cops cited Galeener for misdemeanor indecent exposure,but the charge was later changed by the City Prosecutor’s office to public urination, which carries the same penalty. Galeener hired a lawyer, Phoenix attorney Joey Hamby, and insisted on fighting the case, though all the City Prosecutor wanted Galeener to do was plead guilty, pay a fine and walk.

A mean old cuss who has been overheard in the past referring to non-whites as “monkeys,” and who has a Web site where he proudly proclaims, “I hate illegals,” among other racist gibberish, Galeener refused cop to the al fresco whiz up until the last minute. Macehualli’s director, Salavador Reza, said Galeener’s lawyer questioned one of the cops involved in the arrest, the victim Paulita Cortes, and Reza himself, long before the trial date.

“The lawyer tried to portray [Galeener] as a respectable person,” related Reza. “I basically said I thought he was an eccentric and had a foul-mouth. That’s about it.”

Reza said he believed Galeener and his lawyer wanted to prove some conspiracy against Galeener existed between the cop, Cortes, and Reza. But there was no proof of such an unlikely scenario. Told of Galeener’s plea deal, Reza thought the Gabby Hayes doppelganger had gotten off easy.

“If any day laborer had done that in a white neighborhood, they’d probably be in Arpaio’s jail as a sexual predator,” said Reza. “He was cut a break. On the other hand, I think he had to pay a lot of money to his lawyer. And it showed him for who he is, somebody who’s so crazed with hate, that he’ll go to extremes to prove a point.”

Galeener’s earned a certain amount of infamy for his nativist activities, getting written up by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report magazine, being parodied by pro-immigrant activists, even inspiring a Buffalo Rick impersonator at a recent Halloween/ Day of the Dead celebration, complete with a fake bottle of urine. No doubt his recent plea of guilty will only add to his unsavory reputation.

Who Is to Blame for Marcelo Lucero’s Murder?

Elected officials in Suffolk County have created a xenophobic climate that breeds hate crimes.

Lucero’s death was labeled a hate killing by local police, who said the teenagers, all locals, embarked on a beer-fueled rampage in search of “a Mexican” to beat up.

“Once more, the blood of our people, of an immigrant, has been sed on the streets of Suffolk,” said Allan B. Ramirez, a congregational pastor, speaking near the street corner where Lucero died.

It was only the latest, and most serious, in a chain of attacks on Latino immigrants in Suffolk County. In 2000, two Mexican day laborers in Farmingville were picked up by men ostensibly offering them work and were nearly beaten to death with gardening tools. Three years later, local teenagers firebombed a home, and the immigrant family of five living in it barely escaped with their lives. Low-level harassment is even more common. Community leaders say Latinos are regularly taunted, spit upon and pelted with projectiles.

This ugliness is belied by Suffolk’s surface peace and orderliness. It is a land of strip malls, corporate parks and idyllic towns and villages occupying Long Island’s eastern two-thirds.

Local soul-searching over the crime has focused on whether local politicians are partly to blame for Lucero’s death. Immigrant advocates say elected officials, through legislation and rhetoric, have created a xenophobic climate that breeds hate crimes.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and his allies in the local legislature have very publicly championed measures aimed at stemming illegal immigration. Levy has won some of these battles (requiring county contractors to check workers’ status, cracking down on landlords with overcrowded housing) but lost others, most notably an effort to deputize local law enforcement to nab illegal immigrants.

Levy, an extremely popular, brash Democrat first elected in 2003, also co-founded a national group called Mayors & Executives for Immigration Reform. He has been a guest on Lou Dobbs Tonight, the CNN show known for Dobbs’ strident coverage of illegal immigration.

Meanwhile, Suffolk’s Latino population — a diverse mosaic of Salvadorans, Colombians, Dominicans, Ecuadoreans and Mexicans — has continued booming. Suffolk is 13 percent Latino, according to U.S. Census figures.

The contradictions of life in today’s Long Island were apparent recently at a county legislative session. A low-slung brick building in a governmental complex off a highway in Smithtown, the legislature’s usual business is the day-to-day management of suburbia. In a typical session, lawmakers might handle zoning, traffic problems and citizens’ complaints regarding trash pick-up.

On the morning of Nov. 18, however, the legislators got an earful about their portion of responsibility in Lucero’s murder, which happened 10 days earlier.

The morning began normally, with resolutions to commend community heroes: a little girl who had won a blueberry muffin baking contest, a sporting goods retailer that donated equipment to the “Fighting 69th” National Guard unit in Afghanistan, a policeman who saved the life of a man trapped in a car. The legislature’s presiding officer, William J. Lindsay, cheerily announced that a fifth grade class from a local elementary school in Bohemia was watching the proceedings.

Then came the public portion, when citizens are allowed to speak out, and the tone changed immediately.

Charlotte Koons of the Suffolk New York Civil Liberties Union was the first speaker. She read a poem about Lucero’s death, ending with this line: “We must all own our part in this crime … We can legislate and educate the hate away.” Suffolk resident Andrea Callan, also with the NYCLU, blasted the lawmakers for setting a bad example. “The policies coming out of this legislative body, and no doubt from the playbook of Steve Levy, have been divisive and unfair, and send a message of intolerance into our community.”

While the speakers, some wearing pins reading “I am Marcelo Lucero,” launched these critiques, many legislators looked the other way. Brian Beedenbender and Jack Eddington, both enthusiastic backers of Levy’s campaign against illegal immigration, stared at the screens of their laptops.

In between the advocates’ speeches, other speakers touched on more routine Suffolk issues like the budget woes of the county’s planetarium and science museum.

Some in Suffolk may yearn for normality, but their county has forever become emblematic of a problem with national reach: the tension between the suburban myth of white-picket fences and orderly lawns and the realities of immigration. As job-seeking immigrants increasingly move from urban areas to outlying communities, suburbs must choose whether they will embrace diversity or scapegoat foreigners.

It’s no secret many Suffolk residents moved from more urbanized areas to put some distance between themselves and what they perceive as the chaotic diversity of New York City and its immediate surroundings, said Patrick Young, program director of the Central American Refugee Center (Carecen), who also spoke at the session. Suburbia’s irrational distrust and fear of minorities can manifest as anti-immigrant sentiment.

“It has become an acceptable part of the culture of this area, and this is a culture that’s pandered to by these politicians and stirred up by them,” he said.

Not all Suffolk legislators agree on immigration. Some lawmakers (including two Latinos and a Republican) have made efforts to reach out to the Latino community and taken a stand against Levy’s aggressive immigration positions.

For his part, in a televised speech the same night of the Nov. 18 legislative session, Levy apologized for his initial reaction minimizing the hate crime’s importance (he had said that if it had happened elsewhere, Lucero’s murder would have been “a one-day story,” a comment that enraged many Latinos and activists). Levy, son of a Jewish father, also compared Lucero’s killing to Kristallnacht in 1938, when Nazis in Germany destroyed Jewish businesses and synagogues. Lucero’s murder occurred on the eve of Kristallnacht’s 70-year anniversary.

But Levy denied there was a link between Lucero’s death and his attitude toward illegal immigration. “Advocates for those here illegally should not disparage those opposed to the illegal immigration policy as being bigoted or intolerant,” he said.

The next day, though, Levy seemed to forget his serious tone and again was flippant regarding Lucero’s murder. According to Newsday, he was speaking to a gathering of business people and jokingly compared his difficulties handling the Lucero case to a colonoscopy.

In the past, Levy has cited the dream of a suburban lifestyle to justify his beliefs on immigration. “People who play by the rules work hard to achieve the suburban dream of the white picket fence,” he said in 2007 to The New York Times. “Whether you are black or white or Hispanic, if you live in the suburbs, you do not want to live across the street from a house where 60 men live. You do not want trucks riding up and down the block at 5 a.m., picking up workers.” With such statements Levy is advancing a polarizing vision, said immigrant advocates.

It’s the same rhetoric the teenagers who killed Lucero have been hearing since they were old enough to understand it, said Carcen’s Young, who added, “this constant branding of people as illegal is the most dehumanizing thing.”

At the street corner in the tidy, seaside village of Patchogue where Lucero died, an improvised shrine has been set up, with flowers, candles, and photos. A line of orange spray-paint left by police still marks the path the mortally wounded Lucero followed before falling. A sign written in black marker reads: “God Loves All People, and All People Should Love One Another.”’s_murder/?page=entire

Deputy’s murder trial delayed: Yancey charged with killing wife, day laborer in his home

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Monday, December 01, 2008

The murder trial of ex-DeKalb County sheriff’s deputy Derrick Yancey will be delayed until early 2009.

Yancey earlier had invoked his right to a speedy trial on charges that he shot to death his wife and a day laborer in his home June 9. Under Georgia law, his trial would have had to begin in December.

But defense lawyer Keith Adams said Monday he had withdrawn the speedy trial demand because Yancey’s case might have overlapped with an unrelated case involving Adams.

Adams said he and the district attorney’s office have asked Superior Court Judge Linda Hunter to schedule the trial next year, possibly in February or March.

Yancey, 49, claimed he shot Marcial Cax Puluc after the laborer, who was about 20, killed Linda Yancey in an armed robbery attempt. Prosecutors allege Derrick Yancey killed them both but have not disclosed a possible motive.

Derrick Yancey resigned his job before his arrest. Linda Yancey, 44, also was an employee of the sheriff’s office.

Latino Labor; Mixed bag for N.O.’s Hispanic work force

Latino Labor

Mixed bag for N.O.’s Hispanic work force
by Richard A. Webster

Gemder Vaz smooths the exterior of an Uptown home before applying a stucco finish.
(photo by Frank Aymami)

Few groups played as important a role in the recovery of New Orleans as the Hispanic work force that arrived in the city just weeks after Hurricane Katrina, s hammers and sleeping bags in hand, eager to take advantage of the post-storm construction boom.

But now that the national economy is in the tank and recovery construction has slowed, will the day laborers abandon the city?

Not likely, said Jon Luther, president of the Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans.

The New Orleans construction industry may not be booming like it was in the year after Katrina, but it also isn’t in a freefall like the rest of the country.

“The Hispanic workers aren’t leaving anytime soon because as slow as someone might think it is here, it’s just gruesome out there in the rest of the country,” Luther said.

Two weeks ago, Luther attended a conference in Sanibel, Fla., that brought together the heads of local and state homebuilders associations from throughout the country. Colleagues from California, Florida, Arizona and Minnesota said their membership was down 70 percent.

“They’re hemorrhaging members because there isn’t any work out there,” Luther said. “David Ellis, the head of the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, told me it’s so bad that four of his members committed suicide. So while we may be moving in fits and spurts, what’s going on in the rest of the country is really tragic.”

That said, the number of Hispanic workers in New Orleans has decreased dramatically because the jobs are no longer there, said Fred Yoder, president of Durr Heavy Construction in Harahan.

The post-storm construction boom that insulated New Orleans companies from the national economic downturn is coming to an end. The pace of work has slowed significantly since 2006 when reconstruction activity was at its height and the demand for day laborers greatest.

Billions in promised federal recovery dollars and large-scale public projects have yet to get off the ground, forcing construction companies to stop hiring or shift to layoff mode, Yoder said.

“I think many of the Hispanic workers are going to go where the work is and that’s where the storms hit,” Yoder said. “I think we have already seen an exodus of the Hispanic work force moving to Galveston. There are still some here, but the Hispanics we talk to are struggling like everybody else. We don’t have enough work to keep them busy so they’re going to go where they need to in order to support their families.”

Their options, however, are limited to a handful of areas that haven’t been hit hard by the faltering economy, such as Salt Lake City; Beaumont, Texas; and Syracuse, N.Y., Luther said.

“We’re talking about really random places. But one thing is true — here in New Orleans the need right now for a large supply of day laborers is not as great compared to the 11 months after Katrina. But I don’t think everybody will flow over to places like Galveston because a lot of the Hispanic folks who relocated here after Katrina have made roots. And they’re savvy enough to know that we have huge growth potential. There aren’t a lot of places that can say that.”

Fernando Arriola, president of the Kenner construction firm New Building Enterprises, said even though his work has slowed “tremendously” he receives calls every week from Hispanic workers nationwide looking for jobs.

“They think New Orleans is doing better and we are compared to the rest of country. Other areas are completely dead and we are not dead yet,” Arriola said. “But right now we have enough workers for the amount of available work. If people come looking for a job, they won’t find anything.”

The fortunes of the day laborers and New Orleans construction firms could change, however, once the billions of dollars in public recovery projects begin, Yoder said.

“No question we’re in a unique situation, and what makes it unique is the possibility of having recovery money coming in and shoring up the economy,” Yoder said. “Without the recovery money, we’re like every other state in the union struggling to survive with our economy in the toilet.

“The problem is that the money is not flowing like everyone expected. But once it does, the work will return and so will the large numbers of Hispanic workers.”•

Bedford teen organizes holiday giveaway

Bedford teen organizes holiday giveaway




MOUNT KISCO – As 13-year-old Jack Foster was driven to his Sunday bar mitzvah lessons, cheap the Bedford teen noticed a trend of Hispanic day laborers standing outside, waiting for work, week after week.

He made a decision to help, and organized a Thanksgiving effort yesterday to hand out almost 200 reusable red bags filled with Hershey bars, clementines, canned goods and toiletries in the parking lot of Neighbors Link Community Center on Columbus Avenue.

The bags were gone in about an hour, and the laborers could be seen walking down Mount Kisco’s sidewalks with their gifts.

“There’s very little offered to them due to their immigrant status,” Foster said. “They’re doing jobs we don’t want to do.”

He’s a member of the Mount Kisco Hebrew Congregation, and many from the temple community stayed with Foster all morning to help.

“We had about 70 people who came this morning to pack the bags,” said Rabbi Aaron Goldscheider. “A majority of the synagogue came out to help.”

Once the food bags were gone, members gave away the doughnuts they had brought for themselves.

Foster, who goes to Trinity School in Manhattan, had written a $4,000 grant application for the food. His sister Rebekah, 16, edited the application, and it was granted by the National Jewish Federation. November is Jewish Social Action Month.

Once the application was finished, they still needed a venue to distribute the food, which they found in Neighbors Link, which provided lists of ideal foods.

Many items were provided by Shop Rite, Mrs. Green’s Natural Market and the Flying Pig, and all were stored in the Fosters’ garage for six weeks. Rebekah Foster also cooked 175 chocolate chip cookies.

Jack Foster has been taking Spanish lessons. When asked if they came in handy for the giveaway, he said: “You don’t need to speak to them. Just a smile is great.”

Many congregations require some sort of community service before a teen becomes a bar or bat mitzvah, but Foster’s congregation doesn’t.

“That’s why it’s so much better,” said his father, Jon. “It’s something he wanted to do on his own.”

Reach Christine Pizzuti at or 914-696-8291.