Grassroots organizations who helped to beat Costa Mesa's anti-day laborer law are ready to party! In October, the city repealed an ordinance that banned day laborers with threats of $1,000 fines and up to six months in jail after legal groups sued the city in March 2010.
After a long activist campaign, the Asociación de Jornaleros de Costa Mesa and Colectivo Tonantzin are hosting the celebration with food, speakers, and music tomorrow evening at El Centro Cultural de Mexico in downtown SanTana.
"I'm glad that this law is finally repealed," says Pedro Arellano of the Asociación de Jornaleros in a press release. "Now we can look for work without being harassed."
The Know Nothing ordinance was first passed in 1988 but later revised at a time when former mayor and current OC Board of Supervisors candidate Allan Mansoor was making his conservative bones known by pairing the police with migra (despite the po-po's objections), closing down a day laborer job center, and costing the city over half a million dollars because he didn't like someone calling him a "fucking pig" during a city council meeting.
Day laborers nevertheless continued looking for work on public streets (dubbed "corners of resistance" by activists), with the Colectivo Tonantzin cop-watching as allies. Even so, Costa Mesa police managed to round up 12 day laborers from different gathering spots in September 2009 posing as employers, and handed them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who deported them. That was the final straw; then came the lawsuit, and the long road to victory.
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"Working is a human right," says Scott Sink of Colectivo Tonantzin. "No city has the authority to deny someone access to the economy." With the rights of day laborers restored in Costa Mesa, that's more than reason enough to congregate and celebrate!
Day Laborer Victory Party will be held at El Centro Cultural de Mexico, 313 N. Birch St., Santa Ana. Sat., 6-9 p.m.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz