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Vista council passes day laborers ordinance

Under a new ordinance, employers who hire day laborers in the city of Vista will have to register with the city. The city council voted unanimously in favor of the measure last night on the grounds that it will protect workers. But critics say the true purpose is to shut down curbside hiring. KPBS Border Reporter Amy Isackson has the story.

Vista has long been searching for a way to move day laborers out of a local shopping center where they gather.

Vista Mayor Morris Vance says the new ordinance will not only protect day laborers from unscrupulous employers. He says it will also restore order to the shopping center.

Mayor Vance: "We've received complaints from the shopping center itself as well as from patrons who want to go there and as soon as they get there, they're immediately swarmed by people and they feel unsafe and harassed."

Members of the Minutemen and a local spin-off group have compounded the problem. They recently made the site the target of their protests. They're snapping photos of employers who come to hire day laborers and just about anyone who looks Mexican.

Immigrants' rights activist Tina Jillings says the Minutemen are stoke anti-immigrant passions. And by passing the ordinance, the city is giving in to their agenda.

Jillings: "This is about racism. It's about a class of people who are being discriminated against and their right to work is being hindered."

Jillings and other activists say employers won't bother registering and will hire day laborers in other cities.

The ordinance requires employers to go through a two day registration process. Employers will receive a placard for their windshields. And they must provide the terms of the job in writing, including the hourly wage and transportation arrangements.

The city is also looking into creating a new hiring site where day laborers can gather.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union may sue on free speech grounds.

Barring legal challenges, the measure takes effect at the end of July.  Amy Isackson, KPBS News.

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