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Protests shut down job centers

March 01, 2006|By Fred Ortega and Lauren Hilgers

BURBANK ? Protesters forced a brief shutdown of the day labor centers in Glendale and Burbank on Saturday, when members of the anti-illegal immigration group Save Our State confronted prospective employers.

For the Burbank center, which was closed for more than an hour on Saturday, this was the second weekend the center was forced to shut by what Save Our State members refer to as their "invasion tactic."

The tactic is staged when Save Our State members enter the center, explained Save Our State representative Don Silva.

At the Glendale center on San Fernando Road on Saturday, Silva and another group member equipped with a video camera walked onto the property and asked a patron not to pick up any of the day laborers. The man, who did not identify himself, left without hiring anybody after Silva gave him the address of a business that hires out only documented laborers.

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The same tactics were used at the Burbank center, Silva said, although an official at the Flower Street center closed the gates on Saturday before he could enter. A padlock closing the gate, however, was not locked.

After the center was left vacant, Save Our State members slipped in for a brief victory celebration before moving on to the Glendale center.

"We are contracted to run these centers and they are interrupting our contracting duties," said Juan Rodriguez, who manages the centers on behalf of Catholic Charities.

It was the first time that Catholic Charities had decided to close the gates of the Glendale center as a result of a protest, said Jess Duran of the city's Community Development and Housing Department.

"They closed it because there wasn't enough coordination with the Police Department to have the patrols that Catholic Charities felt they needed to have" in order to prevent the protesters from entering the property, Duran said.

There were more than 20 people at the Burbank center and 50 people at the Glendale center seeking work at the time of the closures. But even before the doors were closed, no one had stopped to hire any workers while the Save Our State protesters were in front of the center. They wielded signs reading "Illegal Aliens are Terrorists" and waved American flags as they urged passing drivers not to pick up the workers, many of whom, they claimed, are undocumented.

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