Every day, at least a dozen men gather at the Shell station on Washington Street to wait for work as a day laborer. A group has formed to explore the feasibility of building a day labor center, where workers could connect with potential employers, learn English and develop other marketable skills. Most of those who took part in the Argus-Courier’s unofficial poll were not in favor of the idea. Here were some of the comments:
“A deportation effort would be more appropriate. Let’s follow the law and keep jobs for Americans first.”
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“As long as it is not government funded.”
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“Everyone in our community has the right to be safe, secure and productive.”
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“I’m assuming that this is primarily for undocumented workers. Hiring undocumented workers is illegal. So this center would encourage people to break the law.”
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“Every person deserves to be treated with dignity. I think it’s a shame that many people must stand on street corners or in parking lots, without shelter from the weather and from curious eyes, in order to try to find a day’s work in Petaluma.”
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“I support enforcing labor and immigration laws that require people to have documentation to work legally in the US.”
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“No. They’re mostly undocumented. They should be arrested and sent back where they came from.”
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“The fear of immigrants taking jobs away from citizens is unfounded. Citizens don’t want to do the kind of work these people perform, or for the minimal wages they earn. Let’s be realistic and humane, and make a center for these day laborers.”
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“Laborers would still find corners to stand on. What this does is start the process of labor organizing. Do we really need that?”