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Peninsula | Immigrant Rights

Who's Watching Racist "Judicial Watch"?
by Mountain View Mike McConny
Thursday May 14th, 2009 2:55 PM
Neighbors of the proposed new location for Mountain View's Day Worker Center called in a legal group from Washington, DC to advise them on protecting their neighborhood from "illegal" immigrants. At a city council meeting on May 12, the neighbors' group threatened the council that Judicial Watch would file a lawsuit against Mountain View for using taxpayer funds to help immigrants.

Photo: A Mountain View resident speaks in favor of the Day Worker Center's new location during a city council meeting of May 12. In second row, a group of five "Not in My Neighborhood" dissenters listen to the proceedings. Later that evening, the council decided unanimously to uphold their approval of the Day Worker Center's use permit for the property on Escuela Avenue, in Mountain View, California.

At the same time that they get in bed with Judicial Watch, a racist organization seeking to blame immigrants for the US's woes, a Mountain View nimby group is trying to put a sweet face on their objections to a Day Worker Center being moved to their neighborhood. Typical comments include: "We thought it would be nice if the Day Worker Center could patrol the neighborhood as a civic service. We suggested that the patrols wear recognizable outfits like white tennis shirts and blue pants, so everyone would know who they are."

One immigrant rights activist couldn't help but respond with sarcasm, "Oh, really? Why not just put them in prison uniforms?"

Mountain View Day Worker Center supporters have purchased an abandoned cinderblock building next to railroad tracks which used to be a dry cleaner. The workers will help renovate the building, improving the neighborhood, but the nimby neighbors nevertheless feel threatened...threatened enough to call in the racist legal group.

Judicial Watch is a right-wing national group that initiates legal battles against day laborer centers. They have a program they call "sanctuary busters" through which they try to make the claim that day laborer centers violate federal immigration law by hiring undocumented immigrants. The director of Investigations and Research for the group has said that they are watching the developments in Mountain View. In April a representative of Judicial Watch addressed a meeting of Mountain View residents calling it a "a public education effort."

Judicial Watch has filed lawsuits in Herndon, Virginia, and Laguna Beach, California. But Chris Newman, the legal director of a national group of day laborer centers, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, called Judicial Watch's lawsuits baseless. He rightly points out that they are meant to generate anti-immigrant sentiment and intimidate immigrants.