NDLON in the News

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Update from NDLON member organization VOZ Workers Rights and Education Project in Fight against E-Verify: Representative Blumenauer Declares Opposition to E-Verify Bill

Representative Blumenauer Declares Opposition to E-Verify Bill

Portland, sick OR: In recent days, our fight to build the opposition against HR 2885, the E-Verify bill, has gained momentum! In a letter to the VOZ team, US Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) expressed his shared opposition to the bill. Blumenauer’s notes the technical flaws of the bill, as well as its misdirected ideology. Blumenauer notes, “E-Verify is a flawed system that too often misidentifies otherwise eligible workers.” He continues to argue that “even a flawless E-Verify program only addresses one aspect of a complex issue… We should reform border policy to address terrorists and cartels- not families’ simply trying to improve their lives.” While Blumenauer’s letter is a great step in building opposition to the E-Verify bill, there is still much work to be done. We are hopeful that the rest of the Oregon delegation will follow Representative Blumenauer and declare their opposition to the bill. You can help in this process! Call your representatives, and spread the word about E-Verify.

See the full letter here: Blumenauer Response on HR 2885

Help fight against E-Verify,  call your representative NOW!

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Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama v. Bentley

This case challenges the constitutionality of Alabama’s extreme anti-immigrant law, HB 56. On September 28, 2011, in a disappointing decision that departed from decisions in similar cases across the country, the district judge upheld the vast majority of the law.  Plaintiffs have appealed that decision to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The one bright spot in the otherwise disappointing district court decision was the finding that the anti-day labor provisions of HB 56 likely violate the First Amendment.  Those provisions were subsequently enjoined, and have not taken effect. NDLON is co-counsel in the case, along with the ACLU, MALDEF, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Law Center, and others.

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Rights of Curbside Jobseekers Upheld

By Robert Longley, Source: About.com Guide September 28, 2011

Rights of Curbside Jobseekers Upheld Apparently implementing its own plan to create new jobs, the San Francisco-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled 9-2 that your right to stand by roads holding signs asking for jobs is protected by the First Amendment.

It all started in May 1987, when Redondo Beach, California adopted an ordinance making it illegal for persons standing on streets, highways, sidewalks or alleys from soliciting drivers and passengers of vehicles for employment, business or contributions. The ordinance also made it illegal for drivers to “stop, park or stand” their vehicle in order to hire or negotiate with the curbside jobseekers.

According to a memo from its city attorney, Redondo Beach created the anti-street solicitation ordinance in reaction to traffic congestion, hazards and other “difficulties” resulting from the gathering of large numbers of day laborers – many of them migrant workers – at major intersections seeking work or contributions from motorists.

In 2004, two groups representing day laborers, the Comite de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach (Comite) and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), filed a lawsuit challenging the ordinance’s constitutionality.

In defending its ordinance before the District Court of Central California, a Redondo Beach’s police officer testified that the day laborers had not only caused traffic hazards, but had committed “acts of vandalism, litter, [and] urinate near the businesses” in the areas near the affected intersections.

The District Court sided with the day labors groups, finding that Redondo Beach’s ordinance unconstitutionally restricted the day laborers’ and “other persons’” First Amendment rights of free speech.

Also See: Do Undocumented Persons Have Constitutional Rights?

Redondo Beach appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the District Court’s decision finding the ordinance unconstitutional.

In its 9-2 decision, the Court of Appeals stated that the ordinance failed to meet the “time, place, and manner of expression” First Amendment standard established by the U.S. Supreme Court. Under the “time, place, and manner of expression” standard, the government is allowed create regulations limiting speech only if those regulations address a specific “significant government interest” and provide for “ample alternative channels of communication.”

According to the Court of Appeals, the goal of the Redondo Beach ordinance – traffic control – could have been achieved by enforcing existing traffic laws and regulations without restricting freedom of speech.

“Because the Ordinance does not constitute a reasonable regulation of the time, place, or manner of speaking, it is facially unconstitutional,” wrote the Court of Appeals in its decision.

Latino Rights Group Cheers Ruling: The 9th District Court’s decision was praised by the Latino legal civil rights organization MALDEF as setting strong precedent on the rights of day laborers.

“Today’s en banc (full court) Ninth Circuit opinion resoundingly vindicates the First Amendment rights of day laborers throughout the western United States,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel, who argued the case before the Court of Appeals. “The dozens of similar ordinances throughout the region that purport to prevent day laborers from speaking on sidewalks are now even more plainly violative of the Constitution.

Saenz called on cities with similar ordinances to repeal them immediately. “The longstanding principle that the right of free speech belongs to everyone has been significantly bolstered by this decision,” he said.

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Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Case Study: Day Laborers and the Right to Roadside Job Hunting

By Adam Cohen Monday, s Sept. 26, patient 2011 | Source: search 8599,2094846,00.html” target=”_blank”>Time.com

 

Case Study: Day Laborers and the Right to Roadside Job Hunting

Day laborers, like these in Van Nuys, Calif., are facing crackdowns in several U.S. cities. Armando Arorizo / Bloomberg News

Do day laborers have a right to stand along the highway to offer themselves to would-be employers? Communities in states from California to Connecticut have been cracking down on these roadside gatherings. But a powerful federal appeals court this month overturned a ban in Redondo Beach, Calif., on soliciting work from passing cars.

In a 9-2 ruling by the San Francisco–based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges in the majority declared that the ban is an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. The dissenting judges defended Redondo Beach’s right to keep order on its streets.

Day-laborer lines have become a familiar sight across the country. Workers, almost all of them men and many of them Mexican immigrants, stand alongside highways and streets hoping to be chosen for construction work or other manual labor. In 1987, Redondo Beach — prodded by complaints about day-laborer lines — made it illegal “to stand on a street or highway and solicit … employment, business or contributions from an occupant of any motor vehicle.” In 2004, the city ramped things up by creating the Day Labor Enforcement Project, in which police posed as potential employers and arrested day laborers who asked for work. As many as 50 cities in California have bans like the one in Redondo Beach, according to a lawyer for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. But the question of whether day laborers should be allowed to solicit work on the side of the road is hardly a West Coast–only issue. On New York’s Long Island, there have been crackdowns on day laborers that critics say amount to criminalizing “waving while Latino.” In March, Danbury, Conn., agreed to a $400,000 settlement with day laborers who complained that their 2006 arrests, the result of a police sting, were illegal and constituted racial profiling.

Advocates for day laborers sued Redondo Beach, charging that the law infringed on the free-speech rights of the workers and prospective employers, effectively making it a crime for people to seek work. The appeals court agreed. The law is also so broad, the majority ruling held, that, in certain locations, it could make it a crime for concerned citizens to raise money for a disaster-relief fund, for Girl Scouts to sell cookies outside their school or for children to have a lemonade stand outside their home.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski issued a strongly worded dissent, along with one other judge, that described the ruling striking down Redondo Beach’s law as “folly.” Kozinski argued that day laborers who lined up for work created real problems by littering, vandalizing, harassing women and generally making a nuisance. Municipalities have a right, he wrote, to “se the safety, beauty, tranquility and orderliness of neighborhoods.” In a rhetorical flourish, the chief judge declared that the majority was “demonstrably, egregiously, recklessly wrong.” And in case anyone wasn’t quite sure how he felt about the matter, he added, “If I could dissent twice, I would.”

As entertaining as the dissent is to read, however, the Ninth Circuit got it right on the law. Ordinances like the one in Redondo Beach unconstitutionally restrict people from engaging in free speech in public places. People have a right to stand by the road and offer to work, and people in cars have a right to ask people on the roadside if they want a job. It is core First Amendment expression.

If city officials are concerned about the litter, vandalism and harassment that the dissenters pointed to, they should be sure that they have strong laws against these things, and they should enforce them.

There is, of course, a lot more going on in these battles over day laborers. As the Danbury settlement suggested, race and ethnicity roil below — often barely below — the surface, along with views on immigration policy. Critics of the street-side bans say that if the day laborers lining up for work were U.S.-born whites, the laws either would not exist or would not be enforced.

Day-laborer lines are a Rorschach test. Some people look at them and see foreigners who are making a mess of tidy neighborhoods and threatening public safety. Other observers see the lines as filled with well-meaning people, many of them fathers and husbands, willing to work hard — often for little pay — to be able to food and provide shelter for their families. First Amendment issues aside, which vision people have of the men by the road is likely to explain whether they want the bans to survive or to be struck down.

Cohen, a former TIME writer and former member of the New York Times editorial board, is a lawyer who teaches at Yale Law School. Case Study, his legal column for TIME.com, appears every Monday. You can continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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Court overturns day laborer ruling

Source: EasyReaderNews.com | September 22nd, 2011 by Mark McDermott filed in Redondo Beach

Court overturns day laborer ruling

A six year legal battle that began with the arrests of day laborers along Artesia and Manhattan Beach boulevards added another chapter as the Ninth Circuit "en banc" panel weighed in last week. Photo by Mark McDermott

An eleven-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit federal appeals court last week ruled that a Redondo Beach ordinance aimed at curtailing day laborers soliciting work on city streets was unconstitutional in a vehemently contested 9-2 decision. A strongly worded dissent by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski that begins with the words “This is folly” signaled that the case is a candidate for U.S. Supreme Court review [See majority opinion and dissent].

The Court, site which met in a relatively rare “en banc” gathering to hear the case in March, overturned an earlier decision by a three member Ninth Circuit panel, overruling its own precedent-setting upholding of a 25-year-old ordinance enacted by the city of Phoenix. Redondo’s law ordinance was a word-for-word copy of the Phoenix ordinance.

Judge Milan Smith, the author of the majority opinion, wrote that Redondo’s ordinance went beyond “time, place, and manner of expression” limitations of First Amendment freedom of speech rights the Supreme Court has deemed allowable to protect a government’s interest.

Smith sided with the plaintiff, a national day laborer organization called Comite de Journaleros, in arguing that the ordinance “technically appl[ies] to children selling lemonade on the sidewalk in front of their home, as well as to Girl Scouts selling cookies on the sidewalk outside of their school,” as well as “to a motorist who stops, on a residential street, to inquire whether a neighbor’s teen-age daughter or son would be interested in performing yard work or babysitting.”

“The Ordinance is not narrowly tailored because it regulates significantly more speech than is necessary to achieve the City’s purpose of improving traffic safety and traffic flow at two major Redondo Beach intersections, and the City could have achieved these goals through less restrictive measures, such as the enforcement of existing traffic laws and regulations,” Smith wrote.

Kozinski, who is also an essayist whose work has appeared in the New Yorker and the National Review, vigorously attacked the majority opinion in an unusually entertaining, freewheeling dissent. He took particular aim at what he called the majority opinion’s “parade of horribles” in its challenge that the ordinance was overly broad. “The judicial imagination can always run wild in conjuring how laws can be misapplied, but the Supreme Court instructs us that ‘the mere fact that one can conceive of some impermissible applications of a statute is not sufficient to render it susceptible to an overbreadth challenge,’” Kozinski argued.

“There is no evidence that the city has ever enforced, threatened to enforce or dreamt of enforcing the ordinance against sidewalk food vendors, tyke lemonade moguls, Girl Scout cookie peddlers, high school car washers, disaster relief solicitors or middle-aged men cruising neighborhoods looking to pick up teenage girls from their front yards,” Kozinski wrote.

“The majority is demonstrably, egregiously, recklessly wrong,” Kozinski added. “If I could dissent twice, I would.”

City Attorney Mike Webb likely has a new favorite author in the chief judge. Webb, who has defended the city’s ordinance (enacted by City Council in 1987) since it was first legally attacked in 2004, said the vehemence of the dissent was clearly intended as a signal to the Supreme Court. He said it perfectly articulated everything he thought was in error in the majority’s opinion.

“You just don’t expect this in a dissent,” Webb said. “And it was everything you think, as a lawyer, when you read something that is so wrong but would never dare say – but he’s Chief Judge, so he can say it.”

The city’s anti-solicitation ordinance was enacted by the City Council in 1987 but didn’t draw legal fire until it was enforced in 2004 with police sting operations that led to the arrests of 69 day laborers and a handful of contractors who sought to hire them. The city said it was responding to complaints from residents and businesses near two spots in the city where day laborers congregate to look for work, near the intersections ofArtesia Boulevard. andFelton LaneandManhattan Beach Boulevard near Inglewood Ave.

Webb said he particularly agreed with Kozinski’s assertion that the court’s ruling undercuts city’s ability to govern itself and address public safety problems associated with the day laborer gatherings.

“The bottom line is that city officials, after years of effort, found existing tools inadequate or too expensive to rid the city’s streets of day laborers,” Kozinski wrote. “Appointing themselves as a Super City Council, my colleagues – who need not answer to the voters – decide that they know how to run Redondo Beach better than its elected officials.”

Webb said the only other tool that had proven effective was Immigration and Naturalization Service (I.N.S.) sweeps, which in themselves create public safety hazards because illegal workers often flee into the streets.

“If we don’t get Supreme Court review, we don’t have any effective tools to address this,” Webb said.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which has provided the laborers’ defense, has long argued that the city is in effect trying to kick day laborers out of Redondo Beach. MALDEF president and general counsel Thomas Saenz, who argued the case, called the victory a vindication of First Amendment rights for day laborers that would set a precedent throughout the nation.

“The dozens of similar ordinances throughout the region that purport to prevent day laborers from speaking on sidewalks are now even more plainly violative of the Constitution,” Saenz said in a statement. “Each municipality with such an ordinance should immediately suspend and repeal its law. The longstanding principle that the right of free speech belongs to everyone has been significantly bolstered by this decision.”

MALDEF staff attorney Nicholas Espiritu said the fact that an en banc panel majority of nine judges found the ordinance unconstitutional makes it less likely to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

“We think the fact that an overwhelming majority of the Ninth Circuit held the statute to be unconstitutional is an indication,” Espiritu said. “…We think the majority got the legal analysis correct, and we don’t feel there is a big controversy here. There isn’t a circuit split. We doubt the Supreme Court would take the case if Redondo Beach sought to petition.”

Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), said the decision is the culmination of a two-decade long struggle.

“The ordinances were intended to render day laborers invisible, but the struggle against these ordinances has made day laborers more visible, more powerful,” Alvarado said. “For the past two decades, the ordinances have stigmatized day laborers as criminals – now they are civil rights leaders. So this victory is not just for them, it is for every American – a victory achieved by humble people for everyone.”

The city has 90 days to seek review of the ruling.

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Day laborer ban struck down

September 21, click 2011 | Source: Associated Press

A divided federal appeals court Friday struck down Redondo Beach’s ban on day laborers who stand on public sidewalks soliciting work from motorists.

Judge Milan D. Smith Jr., writing for the nine-judge majority of the special 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said Redondo Beach’s ordinance violated the workers’ free speech rights and was so broad that it also made it illegal for children to shout “car wash” to passing drivers.

Smith said the ordinance “regulates significantly more speech than is necessary to achieve the city’s purpose of improving traffic safety and traffic flow at two major Redondo Beach intersections, and the city could have achieved these goals through less restrictive measures, such as the enforcement of existing traffic laws.”
City Councilman Matt Kilroy, who represents the council district where day laborers congregate on Manhattan Beach Boulevard, called the court’s ruling “amazing.”

“This is not a day laborer law,” Kilroy said. “This is a public safety law that has to do with soliciting vehicles from the sidewalk from public areas and the traffic hazards it causes.”

Redondo Beach City Attorney Michael Webb said he would consult with the City Council and mayor to decide whether to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case.

A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based appeals court originally upheld the ban, but the specially convened panel of 11 judges voted 9-2 to overturn the earlier decision.

Judges Alex Kozinski and Carlos Bea dissented.

“This is folly,” wrote Kozinski, who noted that as many as 75 workers often would congregate at a busy intersection.

“As might be expected when large groups of men gather at a single location, they litter, vandalize, urinate, block the sidewalk, harass females and damage property,” Kozinski wrote. “Cars and trucks stop to negotiate employment and load up laborers, disrupting traffic.”

Kozinski said it was the city’s duty to protect its residents from such nuisances.
“Nothing in the First Amendment prevents government from ensuring that sidewalks are reserved for walking rather than loitering, streets are used as thoroughfares rather than open air hiring halls and bushes serve as adornment rather than latrines,” Kozinski said. “The majority is demonstrably, egregiously, recklessly wrong. If I could dissent twice, I would.”

Redondo Beach officials enacted the ban because they said the workers were interfering with traffic and pedestrians.

Kilroy said residents continue to question, “Why aren’t you doing something about this?”

“It’s something we get a lot of concern about from the citizens of Redondo Beach,” he said. “It still remains a safety concern. It’s not safe to solicit cars that come to a screeching halt in the public right-of-way. That’s really what this ordinance is all about.”

Redondo Beach officials were ordered to suspend enforcing the law in 2004 until a workers’ lawsuit against it was resolved.

Thomas Saenz, a Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund lawyer who represented the workers, said the court’s ruling against Redondo Beach most likely will put an end to similar bans in other western cities, including about 50 in California.

“It calls them all into very serious question,” Saenz said. “Each municipality with such an ordinance should immediately suspend and repeal its law.”

Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said the Redondo Beach ban and the dozens that followed were intended to “to render day laborers invisible.”

“For the past two decades, the ordinances have stigmatized day laborers as criminals — now they are civil rights leaders,” Alvarado said.

The ruling also struck down a Phoenix law prohibiting the political action group ACORN from soliciting donations from motorists stopped at red lights. Redondo Beach based its ban on the Phoenix law.

Kilroy said the city’s ordinance did nothing to stop a motorist from pulling into a private parking lot and entering into a transaction with a day laborer. It addressed only the public street.

Larry Altman contributed to this article.

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