Thursday, May 20, 2010


New York ACLU wins injunction against anti-immigrant Long Island law

by Larry Geller

Great work, NYCLU.

From their announcement just now:

A federal judge today issued an extraordinary order barring enforcement of an Oyster Bay ordinance that violates day laborers’ core constitutional right to free speech. As a result of the order, day laborers whose livelihoods were threatened because of the ordinance can exercise their First Amendment rights and go back to work immediately without being ticketed or fined.

“This ruling is a great victory for the First Amendment and for the day laborers who can now go back to work and support their families,” said Samantha Fredrickson, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Nassau County Chapter.

The ruling follows a lawsuit filed on May 18 on behalf of Centro de la Comunidad Hispana de Locust Valley and the Workplace Project by the NYCLU, American Civil Liberties Union and LatinoJustice PRLDEF. It challenges an ordinance enacted in September 2009 that prohibits standing on the sidewalk to solicit employment and bars motorists from stopping to solicit employment or hire workers.

“Local attempts to regulate immigration by passing ordinances that restrict free speech are unconstitutional, ineffective, and only drain state and local budgets while hurting workers and local businesses,” said Farrin Anello, an attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Standing on the sidewalk to let people know that you are available for work is not a crime. The Constitution protects all people in this country, regardless of their background.”

Arizona on Long Island

Background from an earlier NYCLU information release:

In recent years, Latino day laborers in Oyster Bay have endured harassment and intimidation from neighbors, government officials and law enforcement when they gather to seek work. In a 2006 survey by Hofstra University’s Center for the Study of Labor and Democracy, more than 43 percent of day laborers on Long Island reported being targeted for slurs based on their nationality while more than a quarter reported having been threatened while seeking work. When residents of Farmingdale attempted to establish a hiring site for day laborers, news reports indicated that someone had left a .50-caliber anti-aircraft shell and carved the depiction of a gun in a picnic table at the proposed location.

At the same time, Latino immigrants across Long Island have increasingly faced discrimination, harassment and violence. In November 2008, Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero was stabbed to death on Long Island following an altercation with local teens who were specifically trolling for a Latino victim. In 2003, the house of an immigrant in Farmingville was firebombed. Three years earlier in the same town, two Mexican day laborers were brutally beaten after being lured out of their home by the promise of work.

Will this court injunction silence the bigots? Of course not. This country is making no progress at passing humanitarian immigration laws. It’s not just an Arizona problem.



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