In an e-mail, Escuela resident Brad Keller said the group Judicial Watch is concerned "that the DWC facility may, in violation of U.S. federal immigration law, support undocumented workers and employers of undocumented workers, and that local cities may be using citizens' tax dollars to support these activities."
Judicial Watch has already sued other California cities for supporting day worker centers and lost, according to Maria Marroquin, director of the Day Worker Center of Mountain View.
"Judicial Watch represents the legal arm of the nativist vigilante movement in this country," said Chris Newman, a lawyer with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "They in no way have been involved in proffering solutions. Instead they are intent on generating problems for local communities in order to make a political point that would be better served if it was made on the national level."
Kellar says Judicial Watch has been following Mountain View and its Day Worker Center over the last year, and is meeting with neighbors as part of a campaign to bust "sanctuary cities" which actively protect illegal immigrants from deportation.
Chris Farrell, director of research for Judicial Watch, met with local residents to discuss the Day Worker Center and other Judicial Watch campaigns on Wednesday at the Residence Inn Marriott in Los Altos.
Speaking at Tuesday's council meeting, Farrell cited a federal law that he interprets as saying that "If you encourage or induce a person here illegally to work in the country, that's illegal."
City attorney Michael Martello says the law could be interpreted to say illegal immigrants shouldn't be allowed medical care, education or to even get on a bus, but instead the courts have ruled in favor of day worker centers. He says there is no legal problem with the city giving the center a lease deal for a parking lot on city property next to 113 Escuela Ave.
Because of its English classes and other services, the Day Worker Center is a "community center," Martello said, that serves "many folks, including those that may be undocumented."
Neighbors are calling the center a commercial business that does not belong in the residential neighborhood, and say its 80 or so workers and their employers will cause traffic problems and lower property values.
The Day Worker Center already owns the property at 113 Escuela Ave., and a conditional use permit was approved by the city's zoning administrator that would have allowed the center to relocate from its current downtown location. But neighbors have appealed that decision to the City Council, which is scheduled to decide on May 12 whether to allow the center to use the property.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Martello says, city officials have never declared Mountain View a "sanctuary city." Police here are not prohibited from contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement if necessary.
Police Chief Scott Vermeer told the Voice in June 2007 that local police have "no role enforcing federal immigration laws ... unless the safety of the general public is at stake."