The July 12 Metro story "Herndon Day Labor Proposal Opposed" did not mention that formal day labor sites do not resolve anyone's issues. Day laborers continue to work in unsafe conditions and still are cheated out of pay, and area residents still contend with lower property values and higher crime rates.
The proposal does not adequately address residents' security concerns about increased crime around the new site. Concerns are well founded because the current site already has the highest crime rate in Herndon.
If being a racist is redefined as opposing the creation of a day labor site that doesn't benefit the community and doing everything within my legal rights to protect the things that matter to me -- my family from crime and my home (my biggest investment) from harm -- then I accept the label.
As a day laborer, I understand the bad feelings that a small group of my fellow laborers has caused in Herndon by a disregard for some of the most elemental laws of society -- including drinking alcohol in public, urinating in public, dirtying the streets and harassing area residents. I would like to apologize for the unhappiness and worry they have caused.
We day laborers come from Latin American countries with weak democratic systems. At home, we lacked job and educational opportunities. Yet most of us are hardworking men who love liberty and reject licentiousness and lawbreaking. We just need an enclosed place to develop and organize so that we will be able to offer Herndon excellent service and guarantee our work. That it is a difficult task to achieve. On a public street there is no way to control things; it is even more difficult to identify those people with bad habits.
For this reason we ask for the understanding and collaboration of the religious and political authorities as well as the general community. Only in this way can we demonstrate that we want to contribute the best of what we have to society.
We deeply appreciate the patience and understanding of Herndon residents, the Herndon Police, the 7-Eleven, the Shell gas station and the human rights organizations. We want all those people who have collaborated with us in one way or another to know that we are happy for their support, and we deeply value them.
The writer's letter was translated by Amy Langrehr, Maria Palacio and Bill Threlkeld of Project Hope and Harmony, a coalition of faith-based groups, nonprofit organizations and individuals that are seeking to create and operate a day labor hiring site.
While it may be true that some of the day laborers gathering at Herndon Town Council member Ann Null's local 7-Eleven are undocumented, others may be here lawfully ["Men at Work or Waiting for a Chance," Metro, July 17]. The unfortunate circumstance of being unemployed or underemployed is not reserved solely for the undocumented.
Ms. Null noted "bottles full of urine . . . that test positive for alcohol" at the site; perhaps folks should stop sampling urine-filled bottles and instead devote their time to ensuring that these laborers can improve their circumstances so that in turn they can continue spending their earnings in Herndon, while no longer congregating at the 7-Eleven.
And while I agree with Ms. Null that Herndon may be "radically different from [its] neighbors in being so welcoming," unlike her I believe Herndon should be proud. The proposed day labor center is a prudent approach to the issue of day laborers that will afford the laborers the opportunity to learn English.
Finally, while Ms. Null believes these laborers with alcohol in their urine are not "a population we want to encourage to live in Herndon," plenty of native-born residents would show traces of alcohol in their urine, too. Does she intend to rid the city of them also?
M. AURORA VASQUEZ
The writer is a civil rights attorney with the Advancement Project.