This is funny, this area is where I used to live\work
one day I was driving my truck down the street
and three illegals jumped in the back while I was still moving
I had to stop and tell them, NO trabaja(NO work), they didn't believe me at first
lets see, that would have been in 1985......................
Arrests of day laborers spark protest
Activists decry police sting that netted 30; effort draws praise from area residents
Sept. 7, 2005
An undercover police tactic that led to the arrests of at least 30 day laborers brought protests Wednesday as immigrant rights activists demanded an investigation.
But the unusual operation brought praise from residents of the neighborhood around Shepherd and Washington, who called it a much-needed crime-fighting measure.
The undercover officers posed as paint contractors last week, luring day laborers into their trucks and arresting them, police said.
Thirty were charged with soliciting work in the roadway, a misdemeanor, and two of those 30 also were charged with drug possession, said Houston police spokesman Lt. Robert Manzo.
Manzo said a police tactical unit set up the operation partly to search for a burglar known to be in the area and partly in response to frequent complaints of crime and trespassing.
He added that the effort does not reflect a change in policy at his department, which traditionally does not enforce immigration laws.
The operation appeared similar to a sting federal immigration agents mounted in 1993. They also posed as contractors to lure immigrant laborers waiting near Shepherd and Washington into their trucks. About 100 were arrested and many were deported.
Some of the workers who say they were arrested last week were back in the area this week. A worker who identified himself as Raul Garza said he was arrested at 11 a.m. Friday and held more than 12 hours at a city jail on Mykawa, on the south side. Garza says he was not charged with a crime.
"Two guys in a red truck came by and asked us how much we wanted to work as painters," he said.
Though none of the workers was turned over to federal immigration authorities for deportation, their advocates worry that the operation will generate distrust between day laborers and police.
There was particular concern about the operation's timing, weeks before an Arizona-based group known as the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps is expected come to Houston to monitor day laborers.
"A lot of people are asking if the police are working with the Minutemen," said Juan Alvarez, of the Coalition Against Intolerance and For Respect, which is attempting to organize day laborers around Houston.
Randall Kallinen, president of the Houston chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, expressed concern that the police operation may have constituted entrapment.
Lisa Flores, who lives nearby, said she was "ecstatic" that police mounted the operation.
Flores said two men broke into her house in November and threatened her husband with knives, also threatening to kill the baby sitter and Flores' 6-month-old baby. Flores said she thinks one of the burglars, whom the baby sitter saw in the area recently, gathers with day laborers in the neighborhood.
City Councilman Adrian Garcia, a former Houston police officer, applauded the operation and said day laborers need to stop gathering there.
"My heart goes out to anybody out there looking for a job, but our message has been consistent: If you're undocumented and you need a job, go to one of the day labor centers," Garcia said.
The nearest city-run center is in the East End, nearly five miles from Shepherd and Washington. Casa Juan Diego, a shelter for immigrants, runs a hiring hall in the facility near Shepherd and Washington, but it is open only to those staying at the shelter.
The Houston Police Department has a long-standing policy forbidding officers from enforcing immigration laws in most cases, and officers have sometimes assisted day laborers. Last year, officers helped day laborers recover wages from contractors who had failed to pay.
HPD has received many complaints about day laborers, however, particularly around Shepherd and Washington. A community meeting in July drew more than 70 residents.
Officers at the meeting talked about one elderly woman who said she had a $500 water bill in one month because of day laborers drinking from her outdoor faucet and using it to wash themselves.
There also were complaints of drug use, prostitution and burglaries associated with the day laborers.
"It's a free-for-all in our neighborhood," Flores said. "As much as people want to make it a race issue, it's not. It's a safety issue."