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Sam Eshersamaan doesn't hate all the Mexican day laborers who loiter outside his Dana Point liquor store. Most of them buy stuff from him; some are considerate and ask for a broom and dustpan to pick up after themselves. Eshersamaan has never called immigration authorities or the Orange County Sheriff's Department on the jornaleros, even though he says they scare away customers and claims surveillance cameras have caught them stealing from his store.
Eshersamaan recounts this in a calm, slightly accented voice while attending to customers with a smile. But when asked whether day laborers have ever relieved themselves on his property, the niceness stops.
"They come, and they shit!" Eshersamaan says, voice raised. "They've shit twice in the front and all the time in the back of my store. I offer them my restroom, and they trash it! They'd rather shit outside!"
South County seems to be in the midst of a Mexican public-poop epidemic, at least if you believe Eshersamaan and city officials in Lake Forest, Mission Viejo and Dana Point. Those three cities have launched the latest front in Orange County's perpetual war against illegal immigrants by passing anti-loitering ordinances specifically designed to scare away day laborers, the overwhelming majority of whom are Mexican. Lake Forest was the first to pass such a law last year. Mission Viejo followed in February with a similar resolution. And last week, Dana Point imposed the harshest penalties to date: ordinary folks can make citizen's arrests if they see day laborers loitering anywhere in the city.
One of the principal complaints against the day laborers in those cities are their shits. "They go [to Dana Point] to drink, play cards, gamble, and urinate and defecate all over the place. It's horrible," said one woman. But when OC Weekly chatted with day laborers on Doheny Park Road—the main jornalero stretch in Dana Point—none of them would 'fess up to the feces.
It's hard to verify the claims of the doo-doo detractors. Doheny Park Road is a busy thoroughfare nestled between Camino Capistrano and Interstate 5. Businesses stand on either side of the street, leading to little privacy. Eshersamaan admits he's never seen an actual day laborer drop his pants and do the deed before the public—he found the turds around the liquor in the early morning, before any day laborers had arrived.
Day laborers interviewed for this story laughed when told about the shit charges.
"How can they prove it comes from a day laborer?" asked Humberto, a dark-skinned, squat native of Mexico. "Does she have a photo of someone cagando[taking a shit]? Did they take the shit back to a lab and check if it was Mexican?"
"Let's not lie, guys," said another. "Some people drink out here. Some people gamble. Some people say bad things to women. Not everyone is good. But I've never heard of Mexicans shitting on the streets. That's pure politics."
Humberto—who's looked for work outside Eshersamaan's liquor store for nearly a decade—pointed out that a gas station across the street and a nearby doughnut shop had public restrooms "There's no need to do something so disgusting in the streets," he said. "Seriously: if any is so pendejo to do that, I'd call la migra on them."
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